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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 4, 2012 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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define a new defense strategy for the twenty-first century in a remarkable process last winter, steered personally by president obama which was unprecedented in my experience. the president brought together the leadership of the department of defense and others in a conversation about the future trajectory of national defence that went on through several months. we made a series of decisions through that process to design a balance, effective defense strategy, taking into account cuts imposed upon us and above all making the transition. ..
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>> underlying our security engagement with the region is our support for longstanding principles that go well beyond security. a free and open access to commerce, of a just international order that upholds the rule of law, of open access to all domains, and of the peaceful resolution of disputes. we seek a peaceful asia-pacific region where all the states of the region, all of them, can enjoy the benefits of security and continue to prosper just as they have for almost 70 years, since the valiant efforts of the brave men and women who fought so courageously in world war ii.
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indeed, part of the reason states in the region have been able to prosper has been due to our military presence. thanks to that historic security, states in the region have had the freedom to choose and forge their own economic and political futures. the stability provided an important measure by the united states military presence in the region helped, first, japan and south korea to rise and prosper, then southeast asia to rise and prosper, and now, yes, china and in a different way, india, to rise and prosper. working with all of them, we intend to continue to play that positive, pivotal stabilizing
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role. that's what the rebalance is all about. to those who ask whether we'll be able to deliver on our security commitments under our rebalance, i'm going to give you five reasons why we will be able to do so. the first is due to increased military capacity. with the war in iraq now over and as we transition security responsibilities to the government of afghanistan, we will release much of our military capacity that has been tied up there for other missions like fostering peace and strengthening partnerships in the asia-pacific. naval assets that will be released from afghanistan and the middle east include surface combatants, amphibious ships and eventually aircraft carriers. from the air force, unmanned systems and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets as well as bomber, cyber and space forces can all be
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redeployed and refocused on the asia-pacific region. in the army and the marine corps, equipment and personnel previously committed to iraq and afghanistan are available for new missions in other regions. second, we're investing in new capabilities that will be especially relevant to the asia-pacific region, and we have carefully protected these capabilities even in the face of the budget control act. in the navy we're investing in the virginia class submarine and the virginia payload module which will allow our attack submarines to carry torpedo-size weapons and over 60 cruise missiles. we're investing in anti-submarine warfare capabilities to maintain our enormous undersea advantage including pa day, maritime patrol aircraft, the m60 helicopter as well as assets
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like the broad time maritime sensor van. and the air force is investing the refueling tanker, a new very stealthy bomber and a host of irs investments key to region. one of ouch tenet -- our ten innocent is the to protect the seed corn of the future forest. president obama was crystal clear, very insistent about this himself during our strategy and budget deliberations last winter, and that's what we're doing as we budget. our newest investments, of course, have the shallowest roots, o it's easy to tear them away when budget cuts are made. but we can't afford to do that. we can't afford to lose our technological edge, particularly as we look to the asia-pacific region, so we're protecting those investments. investing in things like cyber, space and electronic warfare,
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unmanned aerial vehicles, the long-range strike family of systems all of which are so important to the asia-pacific region. and we'll continue all of our science and technology investments across the board. the third reason why we can carry out the rebalance is that we're shifting our posture forward and into the asia-pacific region; that is, not what we have, but where we put it is also changing. by 2020 we will have shifted 60% of our naval assets to the pacific. that's an historic change for the be united states navy. the marine corps will have up to 2500 marines on rotation in australia, we will have four la toral combat ships stationed forward in singapore, i was just aboard both in san diego last
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week, and we'll proceed fully to build out our military presence on guam and surrounding areas, which is an important strategic hub for the western pacific. we will begin to rotate b-1 bombers into the region augmenting the b-52 bombers already on continuous rotation. we've already deployed f-22s to kadima air force base in japan, and we will deploy the f-35 joint strike fighter to the region. differently, we're sending our newest assets to the asia-pacific region first. fourth, we're working closely with our allies and partners to build a peaceful asia-pacific where every state in the region may prosper, and we do that project together. the state department, of course, leads our diplomatic engagement in the region, but our defense relationships play a big part as well. a key objective of our rebalance
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is to build a healthy, transparent and sustainable u.s./china defense relationship. one that supports a broader u.s./china relationship. as secretary panetta said when he was in china two weeks ago, a strong and cooperative u.s./china partnership is essential for global security and prosperity in the 21st century. and we seek to cooperate with china on a range of diplomatic, economic and security issues. including working closely with them to create -- build an enduring foundation for u.s./china military-to-military relations. recently our navies participated in a joint counterpiracy exercise in the gulf of aden off the coast of somalia, an area of strategic and economic importance for both countries. the exercise helped us to build trust and gave our sailors a
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chance to work together. and secretary panetta invited china to participate in the annual rim of the pacific exercise, which is our largest multilateral maritime exercise. so our relationship, defense relationship with china is an essential part of our rebalance. to foster security across the region, we're deepening our involvement in regional multilateral security institutions like the as ondefense ministers' meeting plus we're expanding bilateral and multilateral exercises of all kind, increasing defense trade and deepening our defense relationship. secretary panetta has been to the region three times in the last 12 months, and i spent ten todays in the region -- ten days in the region this summer doing the practical work, that's my job, of strengthening our ties with japan, thailand, korea and india. last year the united states military participated in 172 exercises in the asia-pacific
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region with 24 countries, and we're looking to expand that further. we're taking a broad and comprehensive approach to our security cooperation. of we're building partnership -- we're building partnership capacity, improving interoperability and cooperating on new capabilities. our security cooperation in the region includes a range of foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and technology cooperation. for us, exports are a twofer. today help us build our partners' capabilities, and they help our defense industry's competitiveness. we're improving our overall export control system under president obama's 2010 export control reform initiative and taking strong steps within dod to improve our internal processes as well. we're making our decision process more anticipatory, that is looking to what partners are likely to want in the future and
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beginning our thinking and technical preparations at an earlier stage. these reforms should make it easier for us to cooperate with our partners across the region. to strengthen our regional missile defense posture, we're forging with japan, australia and south korea, new missile defense approaches. we're integrating japanese sensors into our space surveillance network and cooperating with australia on space capabilities. we're enhancing our access and sustainment across the region. in addition to rotationally deploying will la to haval combat ships, we're exploring options for increased training there. with the philippines, we're exploring options for rotational force or deployments in priority areas. we're focused on building the philippines' maritime security presence and capabilities and strengthening their maritime domain awareness. we're integrating roles, missions and capabilities with
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japan and taking numerous steps to solidify and strengthen our enduring presence on the korean peninsula. we're deepening our security cooperation, technology sharing and defense trade with india, another state so important to our rebalance. and, we believe, to the broader security and prosperity of the 21st century. we believe that given the inherent links between india and the united states in values and political philosophy, that the only limit to our cooperation with india should be our independent strategic decisions. because any two states can differ. not bureaucratic obstacles. i personally am working daily to
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remove those obstacles. we're moving well beyond purely defense trade with india. towards technology sharing and coproduction. so our engagement with our allies and partners is a key step to executing our rebalance as they help all of us achieve our regional security objectives. fifth, and last, the defense department is turning its formidable innovative power to the asia-pacific region. we're by no means abandoning counterinsurgency. that's a core skill set we've gotten very good at doing and which we're going to keep. but as we come out of iraq and afghanistan, defense planners, analysts, scientists and institutions across the country are devoting more and more of their time to thinking about the asia-pacific region. we're developing new operational
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concepts for our forces. we're integrating operations and aligning the air force and navy to maintain access in contested regions. we're reviewing our contingency plans to insure we are prepared for any opportunity or challenge that may arise. so the pentagon leadership is focused intently on executing the rebalance. secretary panetta hosts a video teleconference. this is something new. this is something that secretary gates and then secretary panetta have been doing with commanders in iraq and afghanistan as a way of keeping involved, keeping in touch, constantly consulting, constantly working on issues. and we've decided to do that with admiral locklear out in
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honolulu also to keep the tempo of our activities up. so the defense department leadership can make decisions effectively and quickly about the asia-pacific region. i'm conducting a defense department-wide management review to support, assess and implement all of those rebalance initiatives. we're watching every dollar, every ship and every plane to make sure that we execute our rebalance effectively. so in conclusion, we're not just talking the talk of rebalance, we're walking the walk. even in a period of fiscal austerity, we can and will invest in a continued military presence and engagement for the asia-pacific region for all the reasons and in all of the ways i've outlined today. for each of our strategic initiatives, we have had to make careful investment decisions. we've had to weigh costs and
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measure benefits. we're investing in new capabilities we need for the future, and to do so we've had to let go of some unneeded and overlapping capabilities and make difficult calls on underperforming programs to make way for new capabilities and better performing programs. choices like this are the essence of strategy. we're balancing our investments to meet our strategic objectives. so thank you very much for being here today, inviting me to join you. nbr and the woodrow wilson center, you conduct valuable public policy research in support of the national interest, and so as we execute the rebalance, we will continue to look to you to provide us with insights and analysis about this important region of the world. i know you'll have some thoughts of your own and some questions of your own, and i welcome them. congratulations, again, on all of your success and thank you.
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[applause] >> we are extremely privileged to have you give a major address on the rebalancing here, and i think we're all kind of impressed at the comprehensiveness of your remarks and deeply appreciative. i would now like to open this to questions, and let me kind of search around here. can we start over here, the gentleman on the end of the row? >> [inaudible] >> i chose the gentleman furthest from the microphone, i apologize. [laughter] >> well, thanks for calling on me. eric mcsaiden, institute for foreign be policy analysis. i wonder if the new leadership in china and the relatively new
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leadership in north korea provide us with some opportunities, whether we can create opportunities for further cooperation and engagement. >> well, i think for china that is definitely the case. obviously, that's not new leadership either to china or to us. many of those individuals we've known, we've worked with in the past, and they've all indicated their, not only their willingness, but their desire to continue to develop this relationship in a positive way. economically, politically, but for us in the defense department, in a security sense. in north korea we'll have to see. we remain concerned about so many dimensions of north korea, and that's one of the reasons
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why we're so intent upon solidifying our posture there. and, um, that's the reason why we're looking at, um, a number of steps in korea that i'm sure you're familiar with, but i'll just remind you of what's going on there. we are making our presence there, particularly our ground force presence there, putting it on a more permanent basis, a more solid basis. that's what the relocation and partnership program is all about. we're in the middle of executing them. we're making a number of improvements in our force structure, number of command and control arrangements with the government of the rok, looking at the way our operations plans are configured and making sure
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that they're completely, um, up-to-date. so we're doing a lot on the korean peninsula for a lot of reasons, but one of them is in order to continue to keep the peace on the korean peninsula. and we'll just have to see what the new leadership there is like. >> yes, stanley roth. >> [inaudible] >> we, actually, this is -- >> stanley's like that. >> -- televised. [laughter] so let's bring him a -- >> i wanted to ask you about the reaction in the region to the rebalancing, particularly given secretary pa meta's -- panetta's recent trip to china. for those outside government, it appears to be a fairly negative reaction. talking about it as containment, all the things we say it's not. but any insight you can share on what we say to them to try to persuade china that this is,
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indeed, a region wide defense initiative. and on the other side for all the people in the region, the question of how credible is the pivot or rebalancing? people are looking at, particularly, all the chinese naval activity in the south and east china seas. what do we say to them? >> stanley, you've hit it on the head. overall, i think the reaction has been positive. among old friends and new friends. but there are two questions that come up. the one i addressed specifically today is are you really going to do this or not, or are you going to just walk the walk, or are you talking the talk? i told you why we're going to walk the walk, and if you don't believe it, just watch the steps. so watch the steps, that's all i can say on that one. on the issue of containing china, again, you have to watch what happens, and i would say the chinese friends who have that concern -- and not all do, many understand the point and the logic -- to those who have concerns, i'd say the same
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thing. watch the steps. the steps we want to take are ones that are cooperative, we're reaching out, we're trying to do more with the chinese military and make the chinese military part of this security mix which we are also an essential part of but not the only part of. but it's that which has kept a good thing going for 70 years in that part of the world. it's in that environment in which these tremendous economic transformations of one asian state after another can take place. we welcome that. we think that's a good thing. we want to keep going with that. that's what it's all about. so, you know, on both of those questions, stanley, all i can say is, watch. >> okay. one more question. how about in the back there, the rand hazed. -- hand raised. i'm trying to be equal opportunity per section to have audience here. >> thank you. i'm tom with the american-asian
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society and the affairs council. you talk about the need for peaceful resolution of disputes. i wonder if you could elaborate a bit about what stan roth referred to in the south china and east china seas where china's assertiveness is causing so much concern? >> sure. well, we see that, and i think we have a very principled position on all of this. you know, first of all, people say we don't take sides in these disputes, but that's not true. we actually do take a side. we take a side for freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of these disputes. that's where we are, that's where we're going to stay. and, you know, we don't, we don't always have a direct
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intermediating role, understand that. but that's when i talk about the american position in the regions beginning from principle, that's a road lies trouble for everybody. so, you know, our position's
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pretty clear. and it is related to the rebalance, because the rebalance sets up a vision of what the security system in that part of the world ought to be. and i think if people keep this in proportion, they'll realize that not to sacrifice the big game for little games. >> secretary carter i'm going to exercise having a microphone if my hand, the prerogative of one who holds the microphone. is there anything you want to say specifically, he asked about the east china sea, how about the maritime difficulties dispiewtds particularly between -- disputes particularly between japan, china -- >> same thing. >> same thing? anything specific there? >> no. same principles, same thing. different set of parties in that particular case, somewhat different history. um, and, you know, it indicates
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that this is a part of the world where many historic animosities never dispelled, wounds were never properly healed after world war ii and beyond. didn't have the experience that europe had with nato which, remember, took decades itself. to heal these things. so that's another task before us and another reason to have the kind of cooperative security structure in the region that i'm talking about and that the united states seeks so that over time these things can be put behind, and people can march on to the future that their people really deserve. >> okay. well, tremendous thanks and a tremendous job. we really are pleased to have you here. thank you so much on behalf of
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everyone, and can we really appreciate you coming. >> appreciate it. [applause] >> road to the white house coverage continues in just a moment with president obama, he is in denver at a campaign rally. he's about to speak to supporters at sloan's lake park before he heads to madison, wisconsin, for events later today. we will have the president's remarks live starting in just a moment on c-span. mitt romney also out on the road today with his running mate, paul ryan. they have a late afternoon in fisherville, virginia, today live at 6:45 eastern here on c-span. and on c-span2 today here at 8 eastern, a new jersey senate debate between incumbent senate bob menendez and state senator carillos. it'll be held at montclair state university and courtesy of nj tv
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in new jersey. live coverage at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. [applause] >> we need to tackle our nation's challenges before they tackle us. we need to save and strengthen medicare and social security, and we're putting the ideas on the table on how to do that. we're not going the try and scare seniors, we're going to save these benefits for seniors and for my generation so that these promises are kept. >> they have laid out clearly, they say, that what barack obama and joe biden did is they've endangered medicare, they've stole money from medicare, and they've done it to get obamacare and all this, and you see in the ads, and you hear it in everything they say. nothing could be further from the truth. >> next thursday night, october 11th, congressman paul ryan and vice president joe biden will face off in their only debate. abc news' martha rad dismoderates from center college in danville, kentucky, and you can watch and engage with c-span
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with our live debate preview at 7 p.m. eastern followed by the debate at 9. and your reaction, calls, e-mails and tweets at 10:30. follow live coverage on c-span, c-span radio and online at this month as the presidential candidates meet for debate, we're asking middle and high school students to send a message to the president as part of in this year's c-span's student cam video documentary competition. in a short video, students will answer the question, what's the most important issue the president should consider in 2013, for a chance to win the grand prize of $5,000. and there's $50,000 in total prizes available. c-span's student cam video competition is open to students grades 6-12. for complete details and rules, go online to up next, journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign assess the coverage so far. the panel is part of the new york press club foundation's
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annual journalism conference. topics include the ability of the press to change voters' minds, the influence of fact checkers, and the changing profile of political journalists in the age of digital media. this event takes place at new york university. [applause] >> thank you very much. i just want to welcome you all for coming here on behalf of the arthur l. carter journalism institute and on behalf of nyu. we're very proud that you're here, because we think that conferences and events like this are incredibly valuable. not just because they help us all survive an environment which is constantly shifting, but also because they give us a rare opportunity to reflect on where our profession is going. and, as you know, there's a whole lot to reflect upon. we're coming off what's been dubbed the summer of sin where
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joan that lair -- jonah lehrer was accused of fabrication, and we've got a crisis in canada, and it's really easy to lose ourselves in the individual cases of these single journalists who are accused of fabrication or plagiarism. but we shouldn't lose focus on what it tells us about our profession and where it's going. journalists are now expected to become -- [inaudible] and seldom to survive, and i'm glad to see that there's a session on this. and i'd like to raise the question, perhaps, for discussion in the session; is branding one's self, as we're expected to do to survive nowadays, compatible with good journalism? it used to be that there was a church/state wall between
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advertising advertising and editorial. and if you are your own advertiser, is it even possible to maintain that separation? another question that's obvious to raise, especially with an election coming up, is in this any way to cover an election? it's a really good question, and i'm sure the session will spark good conversations, and i hope it will give us some good ideas as well. this looks like a fascinating program, and we're very, very proud to host it. thank you very much and welcome. [applause] >> thank you very much. and now i'd like to hand the floor over to jim corpsville of stony brook university who will lead our plenary panel asking,
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is this any way to cover an election? >> thank you, a.j., and good morning to everybody. we have a very distinguished and knowledgeable panel to talk about this topic, the timing, obviously, couldn't be better, debates wednesday night. let me introduce the people on the panel. to my immediate right is michael howe who's the technical cofounder of the fourth of state project as well as the architect of the platform that runs both enterprises. the project focuses on driving media coverage of the election 2012. and i think he'll have a very interesting powerpoint presentation to make to us. to my immediate left is amy davidson, senior editor at the new yorker. she's been at the magazine since 1995, writes a blog and contributes to the magazine's pages.
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next is anna sale who's a political reporter for wnyc radio politics site, it's a free she covered the gop primaries, my condolences -- [laughter] and focuses on swing states far away from political rallies. sounds like a much better assignment. [laughter] she appears on the takeaway and contributed to npr, bbc, wgvh, new york 1 and pbs. next to her is greg marx who's a staff writer for the columbia journalism review, co-editor of cjr's swing state project. he was a writer for remapping, and if you've seen his writings, which i have fold over the last few week -- followed over the last few weeks, he's doing some the most interesting commentary on how the campaign is being conducted.
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and then finally, my old colleague at newsday, ellis henican all the way on the left there -- appropriately. [laughter] a political analyst for the fox news channel. he's the author of "the new york times"' bestseller home team with new orleans saints coach sean payton. there's got to be a sequel to that with what's happened. [laughter] and in the blink of an eye with nascar's michaelal waltrip. he also is the voice of stormy on the cartoon network series 2021. [laughter] i thought where we'd start today is give the floor to michael howe and his presentation which probably gives us some material to react on. so, michael, it's all yours. >> thank you. okay. um, happy to be here. i'd like to thank a.j. for inviting me to the panel.
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as jim has said, we're sort of analyzing, at the fourth estate we're analyzing the election from a data perspective. we sort of believe we're going o from the perspective of data being apolitical. hopefully, we're doing a good job at that. we're measuring influence, the amplification of media and sources and journalists within the election coverage. we have a unique sort of methodology by which we're doing that measurement. we ingest, um, all the traditional print and broadcast and on the radio side we're only ingesting npr. but we're ingesting all that content, and we have a unique parsing and processing methodology whereby we capture all the quotes, um, in that, in the incoming content, we assign a source to all of those quotes, and we kind of -- we discard the rest of it.
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and we are assigning a message or a topic to each of those quotes. we are assigning a perspective, um, whether it's pro for anti obama, whether it's pro or anti romney or if it's neutral which, actually, the great majority of -- over 50% of the content is. and we are also assigning a, um, whether the quote is about romney or if it's about obama. so hopefully, that gives you somewhat of a sense of our methodology. i wanted -- you know, we only have five some minutes, so i want to blow through, you know, a number of screen drafts. we have a site, fourth, where we are publishing only a fraction of the data that we're kapturing. -- capturing. we could create sort of thousands of little pictures of what we're doing. we can cross, due cross-analysis of all the data points that
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we're grabbing, you know, so we can, we can look at what the romney campaign is talking about, what their messaging is, you know, what is the perspective of what they're doing. so i thought, you know, best use of my time would be sort of jump in, show you sort of a number of these pictures that we've got. this is the, i think you can see the screen now, this is sort of the platform that we sort of create these visualizations of. of but i'm going to jump into a specific one. so here is, basically, this is when the white house officials or the obama campaign staff are speaking, this is the topics that they're speaking about, and this is the, um, the perspective or the sentiment that those quotes are about. so as you can see, you know, it's a little bit of a -- people think that romney's talking about or focused on the economy, and as we'll see later, he's actually focused more on his, on
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his own character than he is on the economy, and obama actually more has spoken, obama and his staff have spoken more to the message of the economy. and as you can see he is, you know, he's talking somewhat positively about his programs, but he's also talking more negatively about romney in terms of the economy. and when he's talking about character, as you see the third one down, he's actually gone very negative on romney as opposed to sort of speaking up his, you know, talking up his own character. so i'm going to show you the equivalent of that in romney voice share. so as you can see, romney is really sort of spending more time talking about his character. well, he's splitting his time between, you know, promoting his character and sort of making negative statements about obama's character. um, the one interesting thing about the chart that i, when i look at this is that, you know, not only is the economy, is he talking less about the economy
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than sort of what people believe he's doing or the, you know, common perception, but he's also really focusing more negatively on obama when he's speaking about the economy than he is sort of being positive about or putting forth a plan of his own. you know, i think he, you know, personally i believe he sort of made a mistake in that. i think he's, you know, listened to, you know, the right-wing pundits a little bit too much in terms of saying this economy's going to be about, you know, why obama's bad as opposed to what i have to offer, you know, the country. but that's just me. so here is a different cut. this is when people are talking about, um, obama, they are, you know, they're talking mostly about the campaign, and they're talking about the economy. and they are being, you know, more negative than positive overall, as you can see with the
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sort of negative versus the positive here. and i'll show you one more. on this. and this is when we are talking about romney. so this is the topics. when they are talking about romney, they are talking about these, um, these messages. and this is the sentiment embedded within those, that topical discussion. um, so can't really -- i'd love to just go on and on in terms of showing you pictures, and you can basically do an amazing number of things with our platform in terms of cross, looking at various formulations and cross-slicing of data within the methodology that i said before. um, we are also one to have more interesting things -- one of the more interesting things we're able to do is to look at in this over time. so here you are looking at how
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the economy, the message of the economy has sort of gone over the course of the campaign. and i'm showing you three here, i'm showing you character, i'm showing you economy, but i could sort of bring in entitlements. there was a discussion of entitlements sort of that was in the wake of paul ryan's vp selection. and the, you know, the foreign policy, there was a spike when romney went abroad. so you never know what's in the mind of another person, but i believe a.j. invited us here as the data wonks. and our job is to keep everyone here on the panel honest, so -- >> thank you, michael. very interesting. you know, as our panel is to make their presentation now, they're leaving two items, at least two items that i thought
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would be interesting to address. one is the very interesting article and now it is a book out by sasha isenberg about the fact that the press can't keep up with the political consultants and social networking experts, and reporters, basically, are way behind the curve in this campaign. and i think that's an interesting topic to take a look at. as well as the fact that in a way the reporters, my impression is having covered many presidential campaigns, it looks like both candidates have succeeded for the most part in talking over the press, especially the traveling press, and making them almost irrelevant to the campaign. well, let's start off with amy davidson. amy, it's all yours.
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>> hi. um, can everybody hear me well? um, so that -- i'll start by addressing what you just talked about a little bit. i think that we're coming -- there's, even in the title of the panel, is this any way to cover a campaign, there's what of a note of dismay, which i think a lot of people feel about how the coverage has gone and what the campaign looks like through the media, this idea that it's going on elsewhere, and the reporters are missing the story. but i'd like to be a little more optimistic about that. um, i read the eisenberg article which is fascinating, and it had a lot specifically about the horse race and about how while reporters were looking at one place, the political consultants were, had fine tuned and had
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figured out exactly which voters to speak to in which ways and in a way they were using language that the reporters weren't even hearing and talking to audiences that the reporters weren't even recognizing which is something for reporters to get on and learn about and desigher and find that language -- decipher and find that language. but the thing that gave me pause in the article was there's a lot about how brilliant the people running the campaign were, how sharp they were, how they were grandmasters in chess at a time when the reporters following them were just kind of amateurs. and at the same time, if you look at the campaign, it doesn't seem to be being run by geniuses. [laughter] on either side. you see a lot of mistakes. i'm not sure if the grandmasters of chess who are the ones sending romney to say certain things or do certain things or for, you know, or obama, for
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that matter. there's a lot of mythologizing and there are a lot of mistakes. and sometimes you wonder, also, if the campaigns are keeping up with reporters, because these campaigns have been surprised a lot. and i think that possibly that's partly because, um, the traveling press isn't the only press. i thought that it was -- everybody or a lot of people probably saw mitt romney on "60 minutes" when he was asked about whether the responses to the video that "mother jones" found of his 47% remarks showed that his campaign was troubled, and he said, you know, it's me, it's not my campaign. and i think that for all that we hear about the mechanization of campaigns and the brilliance and the analysis, there's still so much to do, and there's still so
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many ways to catch up and to talk to them. and, um, i think this is sort of an exciting time and an exciting election cycle just to be optimistic for a second. there are so many more tools like the ones michael's talking about or propubely ca or just the idea that so much money is being spent, there's also a new focus on it. the times has really serious discussions about polling methodology. there's just so many different directions things are coming at, and there are also, of course, social media and the way people are following it. i think that there's a lot of information on the table from a lot of different directions that haven't been there before. and reporters are trying to sort it out and also trying to figure out what a reporter is. but i don't think that it's as -- i don't think we're doomed in the same, in quite that way. i was watching cn, in the other
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day -- cn, in the other day, and romney was being asked about anything, and the interviewer said, but, you know, you got a pants on fire for that, referring to the fact checker rating for manager he said. and i -- for something he said. and i thought if even ten years ago you showed that clip and a reporter was saying you got a pants on fire, how would that -- it would sound like he was saying something from kindergarten to him. but that's the sort of ideas that have really entered the lexicon, and i think that that's a good thing. to be pessimistic for a second, there is still, um, you know, there are so many media outlets that the candidates have also responded by saying a lot of things that aren't true on both sides, and then there is what i just did, the instinct of reporters to say, well, both sides are doing it and to not
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quite mediate in that way. both campaigns, the romney campaign is particularly in the last few days has said that during the debates they're going to fact check live which sometimes can mean just saying something isn't true when it is true or saying something is true when it isn't true. and i think that because the speed has really increased, there's a lot more for reporters to do. um, there's also the issue i mentioned about money and spending and keeping an eye on that. i think there's some great work that's being done in tracking spending and donors and figuring it out. but there's also a lot more money on the table because of citizens united. so that's a real challenge. and in some ways to bring the optimism and pessimism together about this, i think that this might be the election cycle
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where both sides -- it's become clear what the tools are for both sides. there's money, there's media access, there's social media, there's ways to quickly get information out and really ask questions. and the last few weeks before people actually vote, we're going to see how well each side uses those tools. although i don't know that we'll fully realize that until the next election cycle. and i'd also say that when i talk about each side in this case, i mean the press and the candidates even though that's not the most natural way to talk about an election. you think that the two sides in the election being the candidates. um, and yet that's not what the full story of an election is. on the other hand, just to go back for a second i do think
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that the press in taking on the candidates can call the right and the wrong and the correct and the incorrect, and i hope that there's a lot more of that. and i probably am running out of time, so i'll just say that i do, again, on the optimism front, can anyone imagine sort of during, say, the kennedy/nixon debates that we'd all be watching it with twitter, that there'd be instant fact checking, that there'd be conversations going on or people saying, you know, actually hearing him on the radio he sounds a lot better or anything like that. i think in some ways this is just a really great time for political coverage, and, um, i hope that that turns out to be true in the next few weeks and that we don't instead see some degraded moments of politics. but i think it's going to be, i
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think it's going to be fascinating. >> thank you. anna, you want to pick up? >> sure. um, again, i'm anna sale with wnyc radio. thanks, everybody, for having me. i wanted to start just by kind of is this any way to cover an election, and you think just to start, you know, what's the purpose of covering an election, what are the storylines. and it seems like the most prominent that we think about is who is winning and secondarily, who should win by looking at the policy and then, thirdly, is, you know, where is the race taking place, and that's where we're looking at swing states. and so that's a lot of where my reporting has been in the last six months, um, just to kind of give a big picture of how wnyc has decided to approach the election, we clearly are kind of a small fish in the big pond of covering the election, so we -- because we're radio, radio native voter voices are a big driver of how we want to cover the election. so we started this summer with a
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series on the brian lehrer show called that's my issue, and with that we said, you know, we're hearing about what are the poll-tested issues, we're hearing what the candidates are focused on, but trying to get people to not just think about the economy because that's what with, you know, kind of tell the story about why, how the economy, you know, what in your life is making that a driving issue for you. maybe it's stem cell research, maybe it's things that people aren't talking about. so we sort of drove that conversation and to try to hear from people who didn't just live in ohio and florida and iowa and colorado. to actually hear what new yorkers had to say. then he moved on from that because new york, of course, is not a swing state. and from that we, that grew into our 30 issues in 30 days series that the brian lehrer show does, and with that, that just tries to take a look at key issues in the election, with the candidates stand on those and digging into them a little deep. and then my swing state coverage is sort of driven by going to the places where the election is
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being fought and listening to the stories of voters, hearing how voters are experiencing the election. is and so i just want to return to the sasha issenberg article in books and series that he had, because one of the arguments he makes is that campaigns are now looking at voters in a much different way than the press talks about them. they're looking at -- they've got so much data, they're not looking at particular counties or precincts, they're looking at so many different cross-tabs of data that if one voter in southeast ohio who's a big obama supporter, they're going to make sure that person turns out, not necessarily looking at turnout in cleveland which is the way reporters all talk about it, for example. but i just want to make sort of an argument for still looking at demographics and geography as a way to frame storytelling and reporting, because that's where a lot of interesting data is. and so the first kind of question that i wanted to ask myself looking at ohio, looking at colorado is, you know, how do
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we break up who the different voting groups are, who are the decisive voting groups and get away from just kind of these broad suburban voters this, evangelical voters this. and so from that the first question i asked is, well, what's measurable, what do we know? so starting with exit polls from 2004, 2008 looking at who turned out in which counties, looking at how voter registration trends changed in different counties where independent voters are surging, where democratic registration was declining, republican registration was increasing. and then looking at voting trends in particular counties. so, for example, which counties in colorado were the counties that switched from 2004 to 2008 when it went from george w. bush to obama in 2008? is so then using that framework, we did a, i did a road trip over the summer stopping in colorado, iowa, wisconsin, ohio and then later florida, and with that
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kind of baseline kind of knowledge of who the voters i was looking for, where are the places to go, then it was just, you know, man on the street on steroids. and i was walking around, you know, shopping centers and diners and university campuses and office parks and trying to just get the stories of voters who weren't showing up at campaign rallieses, who were just going about their daily lives and asking them about, you know, how they were thinking about themselves politically, what were the stories that they were paying attention to in the election, what weren't they paying attention to. and from that kind of met some characters that i've since returned to and kind of gotten a sense of how their takes on the race have shifted over the last several months. um, and so, so ity that what is valuable in that it's very, youu know, it's the danger as a reporter, i mean, every night on my road trip i would kind of come home with 15 interviews with voters and think, oh, this is just completely unscientific
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and anecdotal, what is this really telling us. but it tells us stories of americans and how they're experiencing the elections, and i think it's valuable to hear the voices we don't quite hear enough. the voices we usually hear of voters are the poll follow-up calls or the voters who turn out to rallies because the reporters get one or two great, juicy bites before they get back on the bus or the plane. so that has been our, that's been sort of my, um, conceit this election, but i, you know, and i welcome any sort of thoughts about how to make it better or more, um, less anecdotal. but the one kind of question i want to make sure we get to is the question of conventions, because that is the place where i think there's got to be a better way to cover this election. because we did not cover the conventions what they are, they are parties where the particular political parties express who
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they are in this particular election cycle. we cover conventions as if they are moving these huge swaths of voters by one or two soaring speeches, and i don't think that's the way voters actually experience the convention. so maybe we can talk about that more. >> very good. thank you. your two relatively optimistic views, but i don't think there's any coincidence the fact that npr and the new yorker are two of the most sophisticated, thorough and really best vehicles we have in journalism for covering the campaign. as we go on, there are so many points that can be made, but one point is, is there -- well, let me make two points. first of all, on the conventions, you mentioned, a number of years ago -- i think it was probably back in '88 -- i was on the floor of the democratic convention. i had any notebook in my hand, and i went to start to interview people, and i said, what the
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hell am i doing? this is a -- i'm a prop in a tv show. there's no news here. so i absolutely agree with you that we need to rethink. the purpose of the conventions have changed completely. they used to be news events, we were choosing one of the two people who would be president of the united states. that's no longer the case. at any rate, the other question i think we can deal with, um, is whether the issues really get covered by political reportersment one of the things -- reporters. one of the things i noticed in washington for ten years, i covered national security matters, and then i would go over and cover campaigns. in '84 i did the campaign. but the one thing i found was political reporters were experts on what? on politics, on the inside baseball, on the strategy of the campaigns. and we, even when people start to talk, before they start to write about issues, i find that what they're writing about is the strategy, why a candidate is
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doing something in terms of the politics as opposed to going into the issue. so we might want to talk about that a little bit more. greg marx, your turn. >> thank you. um, so my name is greg marx, i'm a staff writer at the columbia journalism review and a co-editor of our swing states project. ..
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about these issues at a higher level than anyone else, and i think a big thing to take away is that there is a lot of lazy analysis that makes its way into much political journalism, even, you know, regulating music pieces that aren't frame does analysis, and it's useful to remember that we don't know as much as we might think we know. or that we may be sort of operating on received wisdom that doesn't hold up or has never been tested. at the same time, i think amy makes the right point that there is a certain sense of, like, certain gee whiz elements about how the campaigns have gotten a little bit more skepticism about
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humility about knowledge and, you know, don't assume the campaigns are expensive. on the conventions, they are not news events for the most part, they are political theater, political ritual whereas the campaigns and the parties get to present themselves to the country, and i'm not sure that that is really a problem, you know, journalists should interrogate the messages that the parties are offering but they are -- we have lots of time to say our peace. i don't know that there is a huge problem with a sort of moment when people are gathered before the tv or whatever and i would expect it to listen to what the candidate has to say. but i want to pick up on one particular sort of read of
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optimism which came up a little bit and amy's content which is the rise of the fact checking movement and its increasing influence on the traditional campaign coverage. the dedicated fact checker like the blog of the "washington post" are pretty established parts of the media landscape right now, and they've gotten both a lot of praise and criticism, and i think some of those have been desert. but - what we are seeing -- i think what qualifies this is to a greater degree, to a greater extent the degree to which the impulse behind the work is being reflected in a lot of sort of mainstream coverage for lack of a better word, you know, and the conventions at the time this happens. paul ryan's speech was picked over like a lot of it was in the second day stories, but it was picked over pretty heavily for,
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you know, various untruthful or misleading things he said. david lauder in the l.a. times got a lot on the web for the convention that said something like the headline was like santorum repeats an accurate welfare claim in speech or something like that. and i think that there is, whereas a few years ago the discussion was should journalists be doing this, now it's moved to what are the effective ways to do this, what is the responsible and effective way to sort of be vetting some of the political rhetoric. and we see that sort of shift in the response to material the we put on our own insight when we have a piece that offers a sort of concrete tips and guidance for the most effective and responsible way to the fact
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checking. it's red and shared among the journalists. there are some -- it's not -- i think there are some flaws here. i think ryan was pilloried over the course of his speech in the next week that turned a little bit pathological, and people were looking for exaggerations' of his athletic records and, like, taking things out of context, claiming things he said actually things he hadn't said to sort of brand him with a liar stand on his forehead which has a sort of weakness and political journalism you know al gore got the big liar stamp on his head in 2000, and it was, you know, deserved. but on balance i think this is a good and in encouraging thing. and, you know, we see it as we
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monitor coverage around the country. i mean i think local tv one might argue has a particular responsibility here because of the vehicle through which most of the political ads are being aired, but i think i've been struck by the extent to which local news broadcasts actually do feel a responsibility for this and the sort of fact checking or claim vetting the uzi on the local broadcast kind of better than i would have expected. to make a more pessimistic point, what i don't think the media has been able to do essentially while i think the attention and the scrutiny to the rhetoric coming from the campaign is increased, there's not a sort of shift in the unwillingness or the inability
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to move the sort of agenda of the campaign and a more fruitful discussion, and we saw some of that in the presentation at the beginning. you basically have romney sort of trying to let the economy do his work for him at the beginning and more recently i think sending the attacks on his character, and you have obama basically saying romney is a terrible rich person to fire people and that's reflected in his agenda, all of which may be meaningful but there is all of this other -- the national journal i really admire and he has made the point repeatedly that neither of these campaigns are offering anything in terms of sort of like near-term relief or over 10 million people who have been out of work for quite
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awhile. i mean, that, like the subject there's a lot of talk about the deficit and long term growth, different economic conditions, the subject of long-term unemployment is disappeared since obama decided to stop, since he abandoned the stimulus, and i don't think in the ideal media world, you know, the media would be more effective at moving issues like that back on the agenda and i don't think that we are seeing that. >> thank you. >> this is a very optimistic panel. [laughter] i guess the heavy burden falls upon me to be downbeat and complaining and pessimistic and all those things the journalists usually have a tough time being. i thought we were famous for complaining all this time.
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but one of two notes before i get to this, before the awful stuff. it is truly uplifting. i think everyone here would agree to see so many people especially young people turning out on an early saturday morning when you could be doing so many other things. i mean, there's got to be a rerun of the housewives of orange county or something else you could be doing, sipping cappuccino somewhere instead of being here and talking about future and some of the present challenges of this passion we all have in this business that we all hope to operate for many years to come. so as someone who is not around for a few years, is truly cheery to me to see that there is that passion out there and that you have voted with your own seat by being here earlier in the morning and such numbers that such a time, so thank you so much for making me feel good. as i look across the coverage of this campaign, there are few
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things that jump out at me that i think were worth pointing out that maybe haven't been addressed yet by the evers on the panel. first of all, the media coverage in 2012 is most distinguished by its enormity. i mean, there is just a huge amount of coverage. when i cover campaign events with the rest of the folks here who are out on the trails to, there are just a ton of different kinds of people coming. right, there's still the vestiges of the traditional print media that i came out of and still have 1 foot in. television covers this so much more than it did back in the days of the three networks. when you throw in the boulders and the web sites -- bloggers and website and the people hiding in the back of the with an iphone camera and the 50 other varieties of journalists and pseudo journalists that never existed before.
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it has an aggregate produced just at a phenomenally large amount of coverage. some of it is really stupid. some of it can't be believed in any traditional way but some of it is really, really good. and if you are even kind of halfway smart as a news consumer or a journalist that is interested in seeing what other journalists are doing, there's great stuff out there. you don't need me to be a diet of good examples already been mentioned for the fact checks in the days i get started or even earlier when jim got started the press corps essentially was david broder said you have the fat guy, the skinny guy and then curtis wilkie that is the guy from mississippi when you couldn't even understand a word he said. i can understand what curtis
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said arliss he's writing and he's brilliant. it was a little plug be and it was all done from one perspective and it just wasn't nearly as much of it, so we benefit from that. but at the same time that's happened, the coverage in the audiences for all about coverage has gotten increasingly tribal and it's truly possible now. this is a little true four years ago and may be kind of trade years ago but it's true now. but as a consumer you can watch, listen and read 24 hours a day and never hear a single fault that you disagree with. if you tend to be leftist and a bunch of places you can go and conservative there's a bunch of places you can go. and you can truly become an obsessive consumer of the news
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now and never, ever have to have the psychological discomfort of hearing something you don't agree with. and we are to blame to that for some examples. we have set up in our business a hierarchy where the fame and the money and the attention goes to people that express opinionated views. and my own career is an example of that. i started as a newspaper reporter covering politics in putting presidential campaigns and still do some of that but found over the years it's a lot more fun to go on tv and give my opinion about something or argue with the bill o'reilly or some test of a woman in a miniskirt. it's personally gratifying and you can make more money out of it. and have an influence on the world. so, we have created a situation i think where many of the greatest practitioners of business have been drawn into
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this subset where all of the goodies are, but none of the basic core work and somehow we have to bus that out because they are bad for us and bad for the country and they create a situation i think we're most americans are able to have their own prejudice confirmed time and time again. right now they are suffering most from it because the democrats will again i promise you. right now we have a fervent belief among the republican partisans that all of the polls are wrong. you can't believe the polls. they've all gotten together including the pollsters that fox news where i have spent some of my time and entered into some strange conspiracy where they have all agreed to count too many of the obama lovers and few romney lovers creating the yen persian it's over and the romney
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supporter small to go vote. that's not happening. they have faults but believe me, it's not that but we talked to others that agree with them that is the kind of thing that bubbles also be of candidates that have handed it to that and reporters and i plead guilty to this partly to find there's a more interesting and satisfying path to follow, and my god, i hope those of you that are getting started in this thing will at least in the early idealistic years of your career go out and cover staff, report things, do it in a factual way and learn things they shout at me when i was a kid about getting the better side and calling it the person asking me questions and showing that don't do it over the phone and the basic skills that really make this work and even among the pundits you see the fact which
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couldn't be more ideological outlet the fact that his actual piece of reporting going out and finding a tape jimmy carter's grandson from some other guy we still don't know that is in a piece of journalism because people still use that phrase change the election of 2012 in a way than any pungent did. that's all we have for now. >> will you express your opinions next time? [laughter] will you express your opinions next time? before we go to questions from the audience, which we definitely want to do, i teach a course in whose literacy, and the measure that we use for the consumers is to say when you read a story or hear a story or see a story on the internet, can you make a decision would come to a judgment based on the information you've gotten from that story to see how the panel
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feels about that measurement in terms of the presidential campaign? are we giving people enough information so they can make an intelligent choice about who to vote for? >> i guess the question has to do with the question is just an intelligent choice about who to vote for. you said something interesting about the part of the question being who is going to win and who is going to win. a4a example, one area that i think could be a little pessimistic about its coverage of foreign affairs you can read something about libya, say the reporting about how maybe the obama administration stories shifted in all of that and maybe if you don't already like obama,
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maybe that will help inform your choice of whether to vote for him, but not it seems lately because it's given you the information or the tools to think about what ought to happen in libya or what our policy and let the ought to be to really come to praise and foreign policy coverage as character coverage. i think those categories in a way get confused. you have separated them out, but it's -- or we learned about the world when we read that article or are we learning about whether mitt romney cares about the little guy or about whether obama is brave? i think it is a tricky question because you might indeed get the information that you feel you need to know to vote for this person or that person. but there's also the other
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little issue about learning about the articles are about more about the actual problems in the world beyond the election might be coming and i don't think that the character thing is negligible. it is important if somebody cares about the little guy. that is crucial about how they see the world, but i wonder also if there is -- if an article can succeed on those grounds and also just failed drastically and telling americans about where we are in the world, and what we might do and what we might see and how we might make decisions that affect people's lives and not just this year but in other countries as well. >> i just think it's not enough -- every article could repeat that mitt romney hasn't given details about how he is going to, you know, the details of his
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tax policy or how he wants to comprehensively address immigration as he is criticizing obama for doing it piecemeal. there's got to be that -- he's not telling us the details as he is criticizing president obama. and again, on president obama's part, the press could be much more sort of aggressive on saying so here is where the house republicans blocked the 1x, y ian izzie, what are two strategies for getting around the republicans if you get a second term so hopefully some of the details will get once we start seeing the president shall be made, but i think there is -- we are not forcing them to say i'm not telling you the answer to this question enough, and there are many important questions the campaigns are not answering. >> in terms of are we giving people information they need to make a choice, i think people have information they need to make a choice. the vast majority of people are
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partisans of one sort or another. that's why they know probably almost every -- i doubt there are many undecided voters in this room, and they get the information they need to make a choice from -- they probably don't even need to read that many stories. it's clear what the core values of each party is coming into the presidential candidates represent those parties. most people can make that choice and the people who are not paying attention aren't reading the canoe's stories very closely. campaign coverage needs to do a lot of other things. i mean, it's a moment at which people's attention has changed to this stuff. it's an opportunity to sort of like learn about and inform people about all sorts of interesting and important things in the world, with its foreign affairs or, you know, the ins
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and outs of domestic policy or the choices that we are faced with on the budget and things like that, and it's an opportunity to hold, to try to at least force politicians who may be reluctant to address some of those issues to address them because we do still have, you know, got less like the convention of the candidate that at least at some level needs to be responsive to the media, and it looks bad for them when they don't come even if i doubt that they lose all that many votes in the process. >> you are absolutely right. no minds are being changed no matter how great the coverage is. very few lines are being changed. the entire swain of the election even though it seems to be swinging a dramatically it is just two or three percentage points.
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to meet the challenges you are right this is a special moment because people are paying attention, and as journalists, we ought to do to taken advantage of it. to meet the challenge is how do we make our work interestingly enough, compelling enough, enough that people who were not otherwise inclined to follow it are drawn to it because he's just so great? and most of us fail at that most days because you look at the numbers of our young people read newspapers or who even watches television news coverage in in their embarrassing and we ought to feel like failures, but the challenge for us is these are interesting stories and there's got to be away if we are just good enough that we can make people who start out not caring, how we can make those people care, and if we have done just a little bit of that we should feel good about ourselves i think. >> i'm going to disagree with both of you about one thing which is i think it's wrong to give up on the idea that - can
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change. if you look at even sort of a very narrow issue were it not so narrow issue like a gay marriage, and you see how very quickly minds to change and people like you thought had the very set partisan views, things do happen quickly and i think that case is partly because of something you talked about which is the narrative and storytelling and the power of that which is something that journalism can do. if you look at each party now, they are not the same parties they were ten, 20 -- there is change because people change their mind, and i think that journalism does have a role in that and this election seems very much about -- part of it is a more electoral college these states are not going to change. they are not going to change in one column or the other, but our
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people in those states listening whether or not it swings the state one way or another are there different views about the poll or the war or do marriage? i do think that that happens and that is something that we shouldn't forget that there is a conversation going on that's an important one. >> just to clarify, i spoke earlier about how i would love to see the press do more to force certain issues onto the agenda, and the reason for that is i think that there is -- i don't mean that the media can't make any difference. of course the media can make a lot of difference, and -- i just want to clarify. the point is to draw the distinction between the specific choice between the two candidates on election day for
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most people is going to be driven by the underlying partisan values that are sort of understanding of, you know, the world, of a whole bunch of different issues about where issues matter. >> i think also we've been talking about this election so far as if there are only two candidates in one race and it's a big congress, there are a lot of mayors and governors, there are a lot of crucial to the crucial issues that are going to shape the state legislatures, but they make decisions about people in the state so there's a lot going on. >> very quickly. >> you are absolutely right and we have been guilty on the panel speaking on political journalism and in general we should focus much more on the congressional
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issues and state level issues because those are the ones where people are more likely to be looking for information to help them make choices among the various other. >> let's turn to the audience to see what questions you have. please, stand up. do you have a microphone? >> go right ahead. >> just a quick preface to my comment. my name is alice and i am a former u.s. department of foreign service which gives a heightened interest in what is happening with my country. i'm a conservative freelance op-ed writer who is a republican in holland. here's my, i just want to
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commend a knee and enough for their comment and i would like to give a reminder to the press. i would like to see and hear and read comments why republicans of color, latin americans and asian-americans, etc. sometimes to need the coverage is a bit of the elitism and we don't get a full range, and are subject just a quick plug i would like to say that the time warner shareholders i just want to hear the news ad i want to hear editorials inside of the news and my favorite purveyor which is all news all the time. they just give you the news, no-frills, and i like that. for all of you aspiring
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reporters unless you are an analyst, give us the news. >> thank if you. >> over year. go ahead. >> i am mostly, reviewing in journalism. what difference does all of the brilliant coverage in the world make if people are not permitted to vote? beyond address issue here is voter suppression. voter suppression is huge. pennsylvania, ohio. courts are overturning bit by bit but overwhelmingly it remains and it is on this vote the election can turn. if you don't beat them at the polls don't let them vote. >> is it your view that hasn't been covered? >> voter suppression hasn't been
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mentioned. >> the subject it's not an election if people can't vote. >> the issue for us is the news media giving adequate coverage to this as a nation, and in its interesting that ford years ago the news media almost completely missed the fact that one-third this year we are covering it, but it seems to me there's been an awful lot in the news about the voter suppression. >> i wrote something yesterday, so i feel i'm good about having done that, but i think you're right. there is a lot more about -- i think that voter suppression and
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fraud we have talked about it a lot, but the idea is a little bit like the nfl i think that there was a lot of unhappiness about, that the referees were on strike as they brought in the resort of tolerance and an angry tolerance. they never would have done this grabbing the arm of the substituted official but there wasn't really a point where they sat down and said we have to get this settled until there was a game that was blatantly the wrong way because of the call command a thing so far the coverage of the notoriety has been all like that. it so important. the most important civil right is voting. it's with everything else relies on, and the disenfranchisement isn't a casual thing even if it doesn't turn and the election if
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somebody can't vote in a state that is solid blue or solid red that is also because that person hasn't been able to participate with it changes the outcome, but i think that with the nfl rapid which did get that strike or lockout rather did get settled very quickly after every book on the national television saw the game that went the wrong way, and tragically at me make something like that for the voter i.d. and suppression to get not only the media attention but the judicial attention that it deserves. >> i want you to join in here. so, it from the data perspective the voter suppression is extremely small. i have no idea what the right percentage should be but it is under 1% and another one of the topics that is just way down
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that we believe should be more a part of the coverage is the money in politics, so the fund raising is just a sliver of the percentage. one of the things we are trying to do with our project is bring awareness to from the data perspective so it's not just anecdotal. don't you know about it? i think we all know about it but is it being given up a percentage of coverage i think is a legitimate question. >> what i noticed in the coverage and maybe even in the question it's an ideological question. if you are a republican upset about voter fraud in my view is hardly exists. many of my friends at fox are in
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an uproar over the threats of the voter fraud and if you tend to be more on the left your very upset about the voter suppression and you have some good rhetorical arguments in favor of it connecting with the civil rights movement and i sort of thing because it has a practical consequence in november. the people that are most likely to be suppressed and also to vote democratic so let's at least in the conversation be forthright and open about the actual real life political implications. it's not just a sort of, you know, philosophical conversation. this is the heart of politics that might determine who is the next president and let's just address it in that way. >> i saw a question from this side. >> another question. i want to reconfirm for him i am the one that reads the articles and analyzes the articles, and
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puts together the data and i can say the last two weeks have seen a huge increase in the voter suppression coverage especially on the talk shows, cnn, stuff like that, it is an ideological discussion for them in terms of keeping those people out of the voting, but then they also for radio coverage had been turned over to citizens asking the demographics how they feel about it, and so i guess i can agree i haven't really seen any concrete tower is this going to affect things in november? >> i've got two questions back to you. what is the percentage of the coverage roughly that it's taken over the last two weeks, and i think the point is right on. it should be viewed as a serious
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topic and that both sides of the voter fraud and voter suppression should be sort of addressed with the conversation. >> yeah. lately i would say though voter suppression issue for the left has been big. >> and much smaller -- >> the republican on the right side there is some coverage concerning the obama campaign, the obama administration tried to change the regulations for veterans, and they basically wanted to give the voting rights of the veterans, they wanted to make that the same for everything else. >> five or 10%. >> its still small but it is rising. >> over on the right side here. >> steve space from w cbs radio. the pre-election polls i've
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always wondered why our listeners, viewers and readers need to know how other people plan to vote and poison the voting poll and recite them on the radio i'd like to hear the of a panelist thoughts on why do we report the polls? >> who wants to take that? >> it's the way that we gauge the narrative of the race in which way the momentum is. i was in virginia talking to people in prince william county and republicans who voted for john mccain four years ago. i don't know i'm going to do it doesn't like this is going to win it's not necessarily wanting to vote for the loser. it does affect some voters. >> on the other hand, it's not
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so where earlier in the cycle you say they didn't have a chance i'm not the only one who likes him and maybe he can pull this out and we are curious and want to know what other -- we also want to be part of the conversation with people and know what other people are thinking and i am not sure i think that is such a bad thing and need to be put into isolation before we vote. >> one other element of it is that it is an easy way to inject drama today in something that's not going to happen for a month or six months down the line. it's also a little and this person -- >> to report the polls. >> it's pretty easy journalism but it's probably no worse than going to a speech and writing down what he says.
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>> it's part of it, you know, it's different than saying -- it's good information to have. as a journalist if you are looking at whether things work, whether people were in a press or fooled, whether people were willing to say four years ago to vote for a black candidate with a funny name for president and the early on polls gave some indication that maybe they were. and when a lot of people have sort of never really thought that that could be possible. so i think the polls are a part of journalism, and they can be valuable tools. it's not that journalists are not talking about who is winning or who has a chance, and then you fall back on something that is almost lazy which is an idea of who can and can't win.
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>> let me add a point on that. it seems to me the key question is what do you do with the polls? you certainly can't ignore them and i think that there is a tendency to overuse them. after all they are a snapshot in time. they are not really a predictor of who is going to win. so i think many of the media outlets because they are easy and it doesn't cost a lot to pick up poll and run them on the front page that's where i raise the question. did you want to say something? >> i have a slightly cynical view lummis. journalism as a business need to put out a daily product. i think the polls on a slow day go to the poll story. >> right over here. >> lisa. i want to bring together three of these different components that have been raised. so, the report on polls people talk about i'm not going to vote
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for this guy because obviously he can't win. i hear people say that about the electoral college to and why am i going to vote because my vote really doesn't have any say to somebody else that is going to decide for me. then later in a different context you brought up well, the nfl decided they were going to settle because they saw that comment on the national television. i think a lot of people think that eight years ago there was a bad call or 12 years ago a bad call on national television with the electoral college, and the outcome of the bush or election, so do you see any movement or any discussion about making a constitutional change? is that something that comes up? this is a sophisticated group of people. we watch things and read things and go on line. we are probably online now. so we have conversations and we can understand things. there are a lot of people who
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don't get it who say well it doesn't make any difference. i'm going to vote on my local election. go to the polls and vote for the local election and then they will not vote for the president because it doesn't matter who they vote for. >> i wish my colleague were here because this is an issue that is near and dear to his heart that he has written a lot about. and i think that he would want me to just say that there are ways to address this without amending the constitution. there's a sort of way to do it by a congressional districts that he would explain much better. but yes, we have settled into a way of doing the electoral college, and maybe there are ways we can look at it. there are a couple of states that do decide their electoral votes. the problem is probably less electoral votes themselves and the winner-take-all in the
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state's. >> i think it would be helpful to a lot of folks because i don't think that there is a basic understanding and a lot of states in the middle one particular on what it means and why it is important. >> if i can talk about what it means to have them working on swing states we probably all have felt the swing state jealousy and that lack of attention, and i think that in a way it is encouraging that there is jealousy because we but all free we like to be hearing from the politicians more directly and feel like they are engaged and involved. it's not like we are thankful that we are not swing states generally. >> a eni we've been inundated with commercials of we were a swing state. >> it would be coming out of our years. >> those commercials higher a
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lot of reporters. [laughter] >> it's a conflict of interest in the electoral college anything with a debate on that. there's a group out in san francisco that has come up with an idea where if you can get the state's total to the votes which is what you need to win to sign the pact to agree that the the electors will always vote for the person that got the highest popular vote, it would be potentially a way around trying to get a constitutional amendment which is exceedingly difficult and unlikely. >> i would add as far as the swing state coverage to think that one of the failures in this cycle is that we reporters have had done sort of our policy and pass reporting to much of the swing states in terms of the obama administration record. how much have we heard how it
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has affected the ohio economy. but we have not heard very much about the agricultural policy and nebraska because nebraska doesn't matter for example, so i think that there are ways that we are letting -- i haven't looked at the unemployment rate in any of the states that aren't selling states for example about how florida is the national average and we can do a better job of doing more policy coverage outside of the swing states. i feel the same way the polls remind me of going out to dinner, and inevitably some of the last everybody at the table with your eating before he or she decides what to order. and then there is always somebody that will not reveal what they are going to order, and i kind of wish that the american people would be doing the second and not the first. you know, i wanted to ask you -- someone mentioned the debate and i wonder if this hasn't come up
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what you think the impact of the d date will be, and secondarily, when you talk about the major media, do you think that the coverage, and i am using this term that one network has used as a sort of monitor which has been fair and balanced to both candidates would you be prepared to defend that? >> to track the movements and opinion over time and one of the things that you know if you go back to past presidential campaigns so the polls don't seem to move very much during the period of the debate, the conventions, those moments when the candidates get up and give their big speech to the country tend to be the period when the
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polls kind of start to get locked in which isn't a good sign for mitt romney at the moment. there can be exceptions, but since is the media narrative profession tends to overplay electoral significance, and my judgment, the value of the sort of policy explanations we get most of the time as well. >> fair and balanced is kind of a tricky question. we have run a couple things that i have edited about essentially the flood coverage of romney in particular, and there's a lot you can beat up on romney.
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he has not legitimately i think. he has as was talked about even by the standards of a modern politician a startling lack of specificity in his policy agenda , and he's basically unapologetic about it, and i did -- i would love to see the press beat up on him every day for that. at the same time, they're has been i think a character a logical mauney sends someone who isn't particularly sympathetic to mitt romney's agenda is that the coverage has been informed by the fact that a lot of reporters don't seem to like him very much. >> we are running out of time
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and i want to get the last questions in. both of you please ask your questions and then we will deal with them. >> i am a student at new york university and i just have a question for the journalism students perspectives. as you have mentioned that we need to make news interesting and attract the readers that you mentioned everything has been covered by everybody it seems, so for journalism students and freelancers for example, what role can we do to add on to the although reporting that has already been done by the major news outlets? >> first of all as alice was saying earlier about going out and doing about reporting, i don't think everything has been covered. i think there is a lot out there to talk about. and in a way that goes back to
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the earlier question about the fair and balanced and also to something you said earlier, there is so much now but a lot of it is you said you could feel like you were on top of everything and read everything and be well informed and never have a dissenting opinions in a way there are two jobs, and one is in terms of what you're talking about one is to do that essential ground level reporting that finds that video or that story were that narrative, and the other is to make sure that within the context of a certain journalistic environment there is always a dissenting voice or contrasting opinion or more to say, and i think there is always more to say. >> of the presidential election might not be the right territory either. it's picked over pretty heavily at this point.
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when i was getting started and i suspect it's true of a lot of us we wanted to work in big cities for famous news organizations, and in the end when i look back on my early career frustrations the best thing in the world to me was going out to dumpy places and being a star and built my confidence. i was the best guy in the newsroom in places i won't even name the and it made me think i could actually do this. having done this the last 25 years. >> much better than being the youngest person in "the new york times." >> the last question.
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>> thank you very much. a lot of this election, a lot of the political coverage on television i'm sort of familiar with fat has been based on the pontificating that goes on every day and every night on the cable stations, and to a large extent somebody mentioned earlier i believe -- i forget the name of the guy, i knew him very well, anyway, he was a "washington post" reporter who went out and covered the voters. he went around like anna sale. >> talking about david broder? >> yes, exactly. david went around and actually
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talked to voters. do you think that there is a basic weakness in the fact that much of the coverage is being done by or at least much of the information is being dispensed with by people who sit on their tv studios don't do about communicating on the grassroots level with people in our opining day and night and given the news of the election for the people in that way. >> i agree with you. i think so. i agree with you and the question when you get called on television you go to television and so the first thing -- the question i want to make sure i can answer is i know what i know and the conversation on television they couldn't answer that question. it's a lot of sort of mythology
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and conventional wisdom wrapped up. that is information. there is information in the polls to make certain arguments, but i think some of the arguments do get a loaf lofty. estimate let me thank everybody for being patient and being a good audience. the one failure today is we managed to put my three and a half-year-old grandson sound asleep. [laughter] we will have to do better next time. thank you, panel. [applause]
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almost 20 years ago we broadcast one of the most controversial stories in our 44 years on the air. it was called yes that is art. i was accused of someone wrecking the ability to appreciate the challenging nature of some contemporary art. in those 20 years the work cyclist and with hundreds of thousands of dollars are now worth hundreds of millions. c-span: so what made everybody so that? >> guest: i discovered something that i had absolutely clearly believe that when you
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question someone's taste in art it's more personal than the politics, religion, sexual preference. it's something that goes to the very soul. officials from the u.s. and the u.k. recently discussed the
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challenges involved with tracking the makers and sellers of counterfeit prescription drugs. gerald is with the british agency and focuses on drug safety and says last year some 13,000 website were shut down after one operation targeting counterfeiters. this panel is part of a conference hosted by the conference for safe medicine. >> it's my great pleasure to welcome you all back to your chairs. my name is brian and i am the managing director of an organization here in washington called the simpson center, a private not-for-profit public policy think tank that works on and in a way transnational both health and security issues. based on the discussion of this for today, - get this -- is really struck me that fewer of the global issues indeed transnational issues that i work
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on cut across so many of the artificial boundaries that we have developed to organize ourselves in government and the private sector and elsewhere than does the issue of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. the manufacturing and selling of course of medicine is inherently a global enterprise, a drug developed in asia and the united states. it might be manufactured in the united kingdom with precursors, manufactured and produced in third, fourth, fifth, sixth countries, and ultimately sold to hundreds of other countries around the world. those drugs of course are a subject as we have learned already forming in the and you are well aware to a series of crosscutting national authorities designed to keep the international journey of medicine both from the
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manufacturer to the end user. unfortunately, as we also know and we have heard some rather chilling stories already today, we know that individuals that petty criminals, organized crime and unfortunately even terrorist organizations have learned how to exploit very well the scenes of international regulations and efforts to keep those drugs safe and secure. so of course all of this leads me to the conclusion, and i believe it would lead you all to the conclusion that counterfeit pharmaceuticals is as much an international human security and national security issue as it is of course a compelling and extremely serious public health issue. brought to its logical conclusion, i would suggest to you that addressing these challenges it's certainly in my view one that requires truly unprecedented level of
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international collaboration and cooperation between public health authorities, private pharmaceutical companies, as well as security officials, security agencies, law enforcement officials and so forth. .. at the u.s. fda, within the office of criminal investigations, oci. her job there as part of her
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jobs are not only making john roth look good, but also she handles an array of drug investigation, particularly those involving counterfeit medicines. aside from her current position here at washington headquarters she has also over the course of her past 13 years with fda served in both the washington and chicago field offices as well. next up we have linda marks. linda serves as senior litigation counsel at the consumer protection branch at the is department of justice. she is responsible their for internet pharmacy, for counterfeit pharmaceutical, for fda fraud and a host of other issues. linda has tried internet pharmaceutical cases and also heads the consumer protection branch of the counterfeit drug team at u.s. doj. and last but certainly not least we have gerald heddell. gerald choices from the uk's medicines and health care
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products and regulatory agency. there he serves as the agency's director of inspection enforcement and standards division. he focuses on comprehensive surveillance, inspection and enforcement licensing of pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesale, as well as a range of other issues that he will get into in some additional detail. so with that i way of brief introduction, nancy, why don't i welcome you. [applause] >> good afternoon. thank you for the warm welcome. as brian mentioned, i've been working with fda's office of criminal investigations for about 15 years. i feel very old saying that. about 10 of those years i've spent working in the area of drug investigation. as you can imagine in that time i've seen a lot of things
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changed and evolved, but surprisingly i've also seen a lot of things stay the same which can be quite frustrating at times. alexander graham bell once said, great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. i like this quote. i saw it and i said i'm going to include that in my speech to illustrate the positive side of law enforcement from various countries working together and cooperate to fight the prescription drug crime. and then i thought wait a minute. that point also applies to the tactics of the criminals that perpetrate these pharmaceutical crimes. these criminals have conspired to come up with new schemes to manufacture, sell, import, and distribute counterfeit drugs, unapproved drugs, and this
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branded drugs, and adulterated prescription drugs. they have cooperated with each other and have expanded across foreign borders. now we come when i say we i mean law enforcement, private industry and government regulators, we must do the same. here's a little bit of how cooperation works on the part of the good guys. this is the story of a case, i was sitting at work one day and i received an e-mail from a government regulatory agency located in southwestern europe. i had never talked to anybody from this agency before, had never met anybody from that country even before. so i was kind of surprised to get the e-mail. turns out they've gotten my name from gerald's agency, and to talk to talking about something and they said oh, you should call fda office of criminal investigations are you should
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call oci. so i got the e-mail from them, and what was was the police have been called to a hotel in this country and they found that some people checked out of a hotel room. the mage went in there to clean the hotel room and came across what they termed a very significant amount of packaging for prescription medicines. filled the police got there, they didn't find any of the actual medicine, the capsules or tablets, only the empty packages all into. so someone had removed this medication for some purpose. so what turned out the hotel room had been occupied by two u.s. citizens. they had already checked out of the hotel. so i did some background checks, the agency gave me the names of the citizen. i did some background checks on
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them, look them up, or at our analyst do that. they just give me the information afterwards, but it turned out that one of them owns a pharmacy here in the u.s. so i thought, kind of interesting, better look into this a little further. so further investigation by my agency and by that foreign regulatory agency revealed that the pharmacist had actually purchased these medications from a wholesaler in another part of europe and have that wholesaler mail these medications to that hotel. we also found out this had been done on several occasions over the years throughout many different locations in europe. and again i thought, so the question is, was this pharmacist bring these medications back to the u.s. to add them to the stock and his pharmacy. so we reset your law enforcement
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counterparts in the european country where the wholesaler that was selling these medicines to the pharmacist was located. in partnering with those authorities were able to uncover quite a bit more information about sales that this wholesaler was making to this pharmacist, where in europe they were meeting for sending these medications do, and this country also even hosted the case agents on a trip so that further investigation could be conducted. so that's one case involving the cooperation of three different countries. it may never have been found out if nhra had not been talking to this other southwestern european country and suggested they contact my agency, oci. and the case would never have aggress without the willing assistance of the third european country where the wholesaler was located.
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so i know you're going to ask me later what happened in the case, but the outcome of the case has yet to be determined so that's what i can give out a lot of detail. but it's very interesting the way it evolves. i have to give another shout out to mhra, just regarding all the cooperation and assistance they're giving to oci on the investigations involving the doctors and clinics in the u.s. who are importing foreign medication that are unapproved in the u.s. if it wasn't for mhra notifying oci of the discovery of the wholesaler in the uk we may never have known that the counterfeit and other unapproved medications were being outgained by these physicians and clinics and being administered in patients. so that's a really good illustration of cooperation, i
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think. often people say, you know, it's all who do not, and it's very true. without our relationship with our foreign counterparts in private industry, we would be very limited in our fight against pharmaceutical crimes. there was a question earlier through my director about the foreign office that fda has, oci has no foreign offices. fda has foreign offices that are regulatory personnel that conducted inspections and work with countries over there. but we are very grateful for our cooperation with the foreign agencies that would have come at a u.s. counterparts such as homeland security investigations, who can and have on many occasions partnered with us to help when these cases across foreign borders. one of the other relationships that oci really treasures is the
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relationship we have through a group called the permanent forum on international pharmaceutical crimes, or pfipc. we meet once a year but we also talk a lot during the year, the e-mail. we've had intelligence bulletins back and forth to each other. and we are able to work directly investigator to investigator and where able to get things done much quicker. it's really invaluable group and source for us. another way that you can work cooperatively across borders is through interpol. interpol is a more formal resource for the police and the rest of the world, and for us
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here. in june of this year interval along with the state department were instrumental in helping oci confirm the location of an ultimate arrest andrew stempler who was the owner operator of the internet pharmacy business our ex-north. you guys might of heard of this case. back in 2006, counterfeit drugs were found in packages being sent into the u.s. by our ex-north. and speaking of the rx north case, i want to talk about the cooperation we're pretty pharmaceutical manufactures. they provided a lot of support for that investigation, and do so potentially for all of our army surgical investigation. working joint with pharmaceutical manufacturers is a key in bringing these foreign cases to the successful outcomes. corporate security personnel, manufactures are often the first
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line in finding this criminal activity. they put together all the pertinent information and to notify law enforcement with it. and they provide us support all a long the way. whenever we ask, they jump through hoops to provide us any information we need to support our investigation. they are also on the ground in the foreign countries and they developed some of the great relationships with foreign authorities, and that's priceless when you're trying to get things done. to further oci's foreign investigative efforts and collaboration, we are establishing a new position in our headquarters office that will be dedicated to internationally liaison and coordination of cases of foreign nexus. it sounds like a small thing compared to what some other federal agencies already have in place such as fbi, i can't remember what a small agency owns the ideas. so this is an exciting thing for us. i just hope we'll have enough
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agents and staff to support the new cases and issues that are going to come our way once we start this. i predict soon after the one agent starts this position, he or she will quickly find they need a second agent to help. so the agent can be later -- can thank me later for mentioned as well my director isn't in the room and listening. there are so many other joint international investigative efforts in the realm of pharmaceutical investigations that are worth mentioning. such as operation 10 g. also known as the international week of action. i also want to mention the joint operations and outreach conducted by the multiple agencies, both foreign and domestic better at the national international intellectual property rights center. there is august and more that can and needs to be done with regards to international cooperation. budget in with another quote, this one from john ashcroft, if
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necessity is the mother of invention, it's the father of cooperation. and we are cooperating like never before. thank you. [applause] >> is this on? all right. 32 years in the government, old lady glasses. i'm with, as your, the consumer protection branch of the department of justice. we are a small litigating branch for many, many years we were the office of consumer litigation. we were rebranded about a year ago. i don't know if that makes us generic or -- figure it out.
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we are still here. we are committed as a department of fighting counterfeit and un-approved drug cases. together with the u.s. attorneys offices around the country, the criminal division, computer crimes and intellectual property section, my office is actively partnering with fda, oci, with all the other law enforcement off a bit soup branches that you've heard today. fbi, hsi, eyes, postal service, dea. in investigating the really wide variety of unlawful trafficking that we see. as we heard this morning, from 10 and as we've been hearing throughout the day, the availability of drugs has just skyrocketed.
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anyone with a computer in order drugs on line using search engines, using ejb sites, and -- b-to-b site. they can do that for personal use or reset. what we are finding i think more and more is that anybody with a computer can set himself up as their own little wholesaler, and then buy drugs that may come from china, india, pakistan, wherever. and resell them to the own internet website, and they can be counterfeit, unapproved, steroids. just the wide variety of drugs that are out there. and as you know, some of those drugs contain too much active ingredient, too little active ingredient, no active ingredient, something completely different. you know, or just nothing at all. so a lot of challenges out there
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because we have become a very drug dependent society, in my mind. people want to just go to the computer, take a drug, and make them slimmer or make the pain go away, or a few other things that might be depicted on the. closer to my right. but, you know, there's no shortage of business, let me put that would come in my office. john mentioned, john roth mentioned the new legislation that was signed into law, the beginning of july, july 9 this year. that fdasia statute did enhance criminal penalties in a couple of different ways. there's a general intellectual property crimes statute that's found in title 18, and what congress did was, in the food
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drug, you know, the fda and maintenance, they kind of sneaked in an enhancement to the 2320 statute, specifically for counterfeit drugs. and they raised the maximum penalty for counterfeit drugs to 20 years, and $5 million for a first offender as an individual. goes up from there. the other thing that those amendments did was use the food drug cosmetic act definition of what a counterfeit drug i is and apply that to the general crime statute. so it makes is actually a little easier under the title 18 statute to prosecute because you don't have to get that patent and trademark stamp and little extra, few extra things that we would meet at trial to show that that drug is counterfeit. fdasia also added a new
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provision -- i'm not quite sure i'm loving it but we will see how it works out. specifically, geared to a adulterated drugs, and it's a 20 year, 1 million-dollar maximum sentence for knowingly and intentionally adulterating a drug, where there is a reasonable possibility of serious adverse health consequences or death. so what does add an extra element that we have to prove, but on the other hand, a lot of these counterfeit drugs are also going to fall into the definition of what adulterated drugs are that are not made in the places that they're supposed to be, they don't have the strength and purity that they are purported to be. so that gives us a way using the food drug cosmetic act to also have enhanced penalties. and the other thing that fdasia did was direct the attorney general to give increase priority to counterfeit drug
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cases. and that's something that certainly my office is committed to doing. to turn to the global issues that we face, i've been doing internet pharmacy cases since 2000. that was my first involvement with the world internet pharmacy drugs. and that started things off with a main target it was a discard australian solicitor who was running credit cards in norfolk island, who had operatis eventually in romania and germany. and what you saw but was sitting in a little town in alabama, selling ly and oth online. from there, it's only gotten more complex and more global, as
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it we. 's just two countries involved. it's five or six or seven or eight all involved in what investigation. some of the difficulties we fa, and i sort of want to ing out the sortf practical aspectfor you, tracinmoney when we start an investigation, we are working with r lawmg find rthae transferng money is to pay for te drugs, unapproved drugs. they are sending it viwestern union or the other banke goin to shell names d places like china, india, pakistan, where it's going to be pretty hard to find out who those people are and where the money is ultimately similarly, we might have banks being used, money being sent to
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one country. in a recent investigation we've got money being sent to dubai to pay for an unapproved drug, counterfeit drug, coming from pakistan. the money that has to get transferred from dubai to pakistan. so very complex schemes in order to move the money around. i think as you saw earlier this morning about tracing those online drug sellers. the merchant banks are in one country. the receiving things are in another country, and you've got a lot of trails to follow. similarly with difficulties in tracing, the centers for counterfeit unapproved drugs, you've got phony addresses on packages. you have false declarations on packages. james newcomb the case points out that a packages come to united states may say medical samples. or sometimes they say nutrition
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supplements. and so they're such a tremendous amount coming into the country, it's very, very hard to pick out every package containing what could be counterfeit, or unapproved, trucks coming in. so we can do things in formally. picking up the phone, calling our compatriots the way nancy i think is able to do. given some of the organizations that she's mentioned and the groups, the working groups. we also have some prosecutor standpoint, formal, more formal ways of getting some of that evidence. and some of those are through as mentioned earlier today by james, the mutual legal assistance treaty. i can tell you again in one investigation i've made we have made trent 11 request to the north american countries, south american countries, middle east and down under.
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all to get records in one investigation. and what you have is shell companies in one company, bank accounts in another country. you've got call centers somewhere else, and you've got mid-level managers, you know, in still another country. and it's putting the pieces together that takes the time. we can wait months, sometimes years to get those responses back from the foreign countries, or bank accounts, and by the time that response is received we may have closed account and they have moved onto another country. they have moved onto more shell names and we have to start the process over. so there's some difficult situations. most of it is because of the anonymity of the internet. you can be who you want to be and you can be, you can be
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anywhere, but you can still sell you drugs into the united states. so the servers, again, one country, corporate shells in another country, but you are feeding the u.s. demand and desire for drugs. so, my time is up. before i get played off by the orchestra, i just want to say that these investigations, they do take time. they involved a very extensive web of businesses set of all around. they are complex but we're not throwing in the towel. we are going to continue to do our best to find those responsible for selling potentially harmful, dangerous drugs to our u.s. citizens, and we're going to bring them to justice. as these three gentlemen have been. thanks.
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[applause] >> well, thank you, brian, or your introduction. and thank you to the partnership for safe medicines for inviting me to join you today. i have to say it's been a great day, a day in which it's been really heartening to see the level of cooperation that there is between regulators, law enforcers, industry, patient groups and so on. and for me it's been a particular delight at i want to take again the partnership for safe medicines port awarding the mhra guardian the commitment that we have at the mhra to fight counterfeit, a commitment of course we share with all of you here. for those of you who don't know,
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the mhra is the uk regulatory agency for medicines, medical devices and for blood. and now, objective is really very simple. the medicines, medical devices should work and be acceptably safe. it's no surprise to any of you that -- [inaudible] completely undermines the competence that patients have in their medicines. want to want to do really very briefly is to focus on what the thread is globally and in the uk. and then to go on to say something very briefly about what we are doing to address that threat. if i can make this happen. this map of the world is based on a very brief survey of the
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first four months of this year. and pressure boards easily accessible press reports of known counterfeiting cases your since i submitted this presentation, i've updated this and you would need to enter canada, india, south africa and egypt, and some 40 or so reports from around the world. this i guess is the tip of the iceberg. and it's clear that every country in every continent in every part of this world is subject to the same threat, counterfeit medicines. and i'll skip the next slide. the uk experience than is not as we've seen so much today already, the vast majority of counterfeit is applied to the illegitimate internet supply chain. we have seen in the uk some 10
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cases in eight years of known counterfeit within the legitimate supply chain. it's reached pharmacists and, therefore, potentially reached nation's. that's in the context approaching 900 million prescriptions that are written every year in the uk. so the conclusion has to be that it's incredibly rare within the legitimate supply chain in the uk to find a counterfeit product. but nontheless, it still a threat, it's entirely still unacceptable. the major risk, which as i say we're all aware of, is unregulated sources. and i thought sandy greenberg, issue still here? she's gone. i thought her advice, what she tells me is taken from our website on how to deal with internet online purchases was probably the most clear,
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succinctly advice on the subject effort. this is -- the red bars show the 10 cases i referred to. so the number of cases we've identified. now, interestingly enough, and i hope there's no correlation. this surge in cases coincided with my arrival at the mhra at the beginning of 2005. i don't think there's any correlation, but it led us into thousand 72 published our first anti-counterfeiting strategy as an agency. as an agency. what i would point out on this flight is the counterfeits are not -- a number of these counterfeits are life-saving products, used for serious life-threatening conditions. i think it's clear to all of us that there is no such thing as a
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safe counterfeit. at every stage the manufacturer is almost certainly going to be of poor quality, there's likely to be cross-contamination of the product, in greedy and in greedy and full of been obtained from the wrong sources. they may be the wrong identity and they will certainly be the wrong quantity. in cases that we've seen where patients have been a with under potent drugs for cancer, under potent drugs for psychosis and you can only begin to imagine the consequences that could of had, which would go undetected by the way in both of those examples, most probably. and clearly they will be purely. the consumers deserve to be confident in the products that they are buying. but not only is that a direct result of damage to the public health, there's also damaged the
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industry. and i think ralph and john probably refer to this in what they said. one of the clearest assets which industry has is its reputation. and the presence of even small amounts of counterfeit products into market threatens to damage that reputation because almost certainly you have to recall the authentic products that are indistinguishable from the counterfeits at the same time, and, therefore, damages industry reputation. so what is being done? in europe we have now enacted a fortified medicines directive, and that's in the process of the next year or so being implemented. some major initiative, and a lot of its content was actually influenced by the review that the uk undertook of known cases of counterfeit. and just briefly to introduce you to this, if you're not familiar with it, for main
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components. safety features is the first component. and this is what's called injured in law, a delegated act which means the precise details and even the timing is yet to be determined. but it clearly has two components. the first is that of temper features and that, specific identification. and extent of both of these components is yet to be determined. will there be some products, all products from and what we the nature of the security features? movie gone, other actors in the supply chain. until now ropers, these folks who actually manage the deals that never actually physically handle the product, happened outside of regulation. they will be brought within regulation. and also those people who we've are we refer to it today, imported products into the country, not to market it within that country but actually to
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ship it on to another country. and often at, some level of legitimacy to the product by doing that. they, too, will come within legislation. i should this slide it was already referred to this. this was a case in point where product was routed through the uk with further going on to the u.s. the third component is a move to find a way of come again, this is yet to be determined how, to find a way of better recognizing legitimate pharmacies that operate on the internet. and the final component concerns active pharmaceutical ingredients. and clearly this was largely driven by the tragic incident surrounding heparin, and it provides additional safeguards and assurances from source countries regarding the quality of the api. just moving on to another
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initiative within europe. this is actually a council of europe and asia, and those who don't know the subtle differences between the european union and the council in your. european union has 27 member states. the council of europe has 47 member states. much broader, includes such places as russia within its number. and the council of europe put together a minitrial convention which has a number of key components. firstly, to make sure that counterfeiting is properly criminalized. to seek to protect victims, and to promote cooperation between the 47 nations. it requires certain loss to be in place. it requires the exchange of information and cooperation, and it also requires training. the uk hosted just earlier this year training for police, customs and regulators from a
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number of eastern european countries in london. a very successful training driven by this particular convention. within the uk, i mentioned that we had our first strategy back in 2007. we have just refreshed that, and a new strategy has been issued this year. and i would commend it to you, if you have time to look on our website. the key objectives of that strategy are straightforward. one is to reduce the risk to patients and consumers from counterfeit products, and perhaps equally important the objective of increase in the risk for those who engage in this criminal activity. because of time i'll move on very quickly but there are three main components. that's protection, and key amongst protection is public awareness. we've already heard that from our previous panel.
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we've worked hard in a number of ways. one particular i think very successful campaign was with, and i know there's a number of folks here from pfizer, with pfizer which was we'll get a prescription campaign. some of you would have seen, i guess if you haven't you probably look it up on youtube if it will appear. a very successful campaign, reached millions of folk within the uk. we also with our own pharmaceutical society placed attractively flits within prescriptions. a number of other areas, collaboration with stakeholders which has enabled us to actually come up with a clear watch list of products that should be subject to surveillance and testing. the second item is incident management. a key priority is to remove dangerous products from the
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market, to quarantine or to seize those products. having done that to set up a team which is chaired at a senior level in the agency, which drives the testing, the recall, the media, and so on. finally, investigation and prosecution of the counterfeiters. looking for custodial ship weather is crime that has been proved, seeking to gain financial recovery of ill-gotten gains from these criminals. we've mentioned and jia and internet campaign. this year it will have involved over 90 different nations worldwide. i won't go to any details but we seek to use all the means possible to actually increase
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awareness amongst the vote. and without some gratifying success, convictions, seizures of proceeds and so on. so in conclusion, finally, we can't be complacent. no supply chain is impenetrable. and the secret of success has to be, the secret of success has to be cooperation. and we heard more about that with the over arching item that we all share, to make sure that our public is safe and/or citizens are safe from fortified and potentially dangerous medicines. so thank you for your attention. [applause] >> and thank you. thank you, jerrold. the good news is that we're going to move relatively quickly
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to q&a with all of you. the bad news is, unfortunately, jerrold has to run and hop a flight back home this afternoon. and for those of us in the room who can empathize with sitting on standstill traffic on route 66 while your flight is getting ready to leave from dulles, you can forgive him for his early departure. so jerrold, you will have to take off, but i wonder, if come before you do if we could collect a couple of questions them if there are questions. i'd like to start with one and remind as any audience that i think it was announced yesterday that your agency was announced as the recipient of the 2012 guardian award by the partnership for secure -- so congratulations, and i hope that your luggage is large enough to carry a giant trophy home that you have received. and, of course, that award was given by psm and recognition of
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the important role that your agency played in warning the fda and american consumers over the circulation of -- i think that particular case which we've heard a lot about, you spoke about in your remarks as well, was a great example of how transparency and international cooperation is critical to the supply chain. by wonder if you could speak a little bit more, that's the good news story, what are some of the big challenges from where you said on the other side of the ocean, some of the biggest challenges to international collaboration in identifying and also disrupting incidents such as that case? >> well, i think we have concentrated on our collaboration a partnership with come if you like him those whom i consider as trusted partners. i think there is an equal
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emphasis which is needed to build cooperation with those who traditionally we would not have found it so easy to a cooperative. and a number of the, a number of developing countries are actually increasing the suppliers of medicines to europe and to the u.s. and i think we need to put effort and time, and we are doing that, into building these relationships so that the trust will increase and we will be able to share information. the sources of our counterfeit products are inevitably -- in our expense, and, therefore, it's very important that we build trust with the agencies in this country. so that i think for me is the big challenge in terms of international collaboration. >> so we've also heard a lot, and these great posters
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indicate, as how both innovative and maybe more importantly how nimble this shadowy underworld of those who are involved in this crime are. for those of us who have worked in government, i think we can recognize that while government is extremely innovative, nimble is not necessarily a word that we would necessarily and immediately default to in describing the responsiveness of government. for overwrite the very valid reasons. and so in keeping with that i wonder if you could speak a little bit more about, obvious a recognizing that this is a transitional crime. but just between you and i -- [inaudible] >> the massive problem facing and the truly global nature of this crime, are we reallycome is fighting this ultimately a lost cause? is there hope out there for
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getting our arms around this? >> well, the world is a small place and it's becoming smaller. and, therefore, they need to think of collaboration -- lost cause is the question you're asking. no, it isn't a lost cause but i think it's a cause which will never be fully dealt. our focus in the uk has been not exclusively but to a large degree secure the legitimate supply chain. so if a patient obtains their medicines through the accepted legal roots, then they should be secure. we've seen over and over again as we discuss and debate the issues that surround supply. this is going to take a great deal of focus for the international committee to do something about it. last year's operation resulted in no less than 13 and a half
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thousand internet sites being shut down. that was a tremendous achievemt with last year, 81 countries worldwide. this year promises to be even more of an achievement. so there is hope. it's a worthy objective, but i would notever suspect that this is something which will not exercise us for the foreseeable future. doesn't that sound like it's ambitious? >> we want to bring linda and nancy into this as well, but in the last five minutes that you have with us, jerrold, are there any particular questions for jerrold before he runs to the door? over here. >> a quick question about parallel trade. 15 drugs that came through that you found in england, how many of those were parallel trade
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country's? >> one incident. in fact, not only the 10 but if you take the 14 or 15 which were the ones that only got the wholesaler, including the ones who got the wholesaler, in fact the total number of my nstic ram, one of them was a parallel trade. it happens to be the largest one, but there was one out of that number, yeah. >> the mainland been? >> it's a case that was concluded in the uk courts in february this year, so it's in the public domain so i can speak about that case. it was a product that was actually packaged in china, in french livery, was shipped i a root through belgium and from belgium on to the uk. so it was clearly, it was never intended for the french market. it was actually produced in french livery with a huge
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parallel trading agent in the uk. and for people's interest that was at a time when the exchange rate was such that it was profitable to ship a product to the uk, and the uk happens to be a particularly high-priced market relative to the other european countries at the time. i have to say, the uk is not such high-priced market now so the incentive may not be the same. does that answer your question? >> yes. >> thank you. >> i should say, nancy has reminded me. that action was the case that they were very much involved in an east coast thing six and a half years in prison all in the conviction in houston. and his fellow partner in crime is currently spending eight years in prison in the uk. for the same crime.
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so it was a very successful cooperation between our agencies. sorry. >> great, thank you. it's, the new european falsified medicine law is very impressive. we've got new authorities here in the united states, and countries around the world are strengthening their laws. and one of the things at fda, we have a new global strategy. and one of the pillars of that is to build global coalition of regulators in various areas. and do you think this is an area where a global coalition could be used? and what you think about that idea of how to go about doing that? and i recognize you have to catch a plane. >> i'm fine. to be honest, i don't believe that traffic is a when you're as bad as i'm told. [laughter] if i'm still here tomorrow morning, he'll understand. i think they're all over already
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making the global coalitions. nancy referred to the -- that's a very effective coalition. and she also refer to the fact that there was contact with another nation is actually not part of the permanent forum. so it extends for the. so i think absolutely what we are planning in the area of compliance, applies every bit, in some ways even more, to the anti-counterfeiting message comes it spent we will get you off stage with a round of applause to thank you. [applause] >> thank you. >> nancy, lend, we have not forgotten about you. navy, you have referenced oci's partnerships and the importance of the partnerships --
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[inaudible] and it's raised in my mind the question, what role do countries like india and china play in these partnerships? >> i can speak, you know, on behalf of oci and what i see. i would say that we don't have good partnerships with them at this time. and everything hinges on relationship, so you have to start with building relationship. and gerald said where trust comes into it as well, we have to build that trust the oci has recently begun to forge a relationship with the chinese. fda regulatory has been working with them and had some cooperative working relationships with them, but on the criminal investigative level we have not. so we just met with them face-to-face.
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they came here. we talked about some investigative areas that we would like to partner up with each other on, and hopefully we will build from there. >> so your anecdote also, such a great anecdote, so descriptive in terms of not only the inventiveness and the criticality of partnerships across borders in addressing this challenge, but also sometimes the benefit of just dumb luck on the part of the good guys sometimes in finding information. obviously, good luck is not something you can put strategy on, however. some wonder if you could speak from you, if you could add one or two tools to your toolkit. what are the tools that you would ultimate like to have in the toolkit that you may not have now? >> wow, that's a tough question. i think when you, when you talk
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about things that haven't, i have to revert back to maybe not international cooperation to the supply chain here in the u.s., the pharmaceutical supply chain, the secure supply chain here, and i wish that we had more regulatory and legal tools to enforce that supply chain better, and to secure it better. >> linda, a couple quick questions for you and then we will turn to the audience. i wondered if you could pick off for some of the biggest challenges to face and that the u.s. government faces in prosecuting incidents involving counterfeit affiliate networks that sell to u.s. clientele are located abroad. how do you manage this job?
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>> well, it's picking through the layers, and so we always say in most fraud investigation, follow the money. and in some of these cases as a mentioned, the money stops at a certain point. the money trail stops. so sometimes we can go beyond that, especially with mlat or international treaty called -- we can make requests. but there are times when they can go to this country. we don't want to go to those countries to make the request because they're going to notify the customer that the banks are going to notify that the unisys government has been asking about your account. we have to find other means to get above that level. i mean, it's easy to pick off the folks in south florida buying drugs combined counterfeit cigarettes and
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viagra and whatever on the internet, having it shipped to a drop box. what the challenge is, is to get to the folks making that in china. and i haven't quite figured that one out yet, but getting to the wholesalers and dismantling, you know, networks as far as you can. but i can tell you that i recently have been employing a wide right tools that i had never thought possible. whether it's t-3 wires on voice over internet protocol phones so that you can listen in to phone calls. because the wiring goes through the united states but the folks on the phone are in two different countries. i've put trackers on vehicles
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going to other countries. and again, you have to check with this country, is that okay with you, is that something you allow? so the challenges are there. i'm not sure how to easily take it down. but a lot of cooperation from the pharmaceutical companies. because they can do things that we can do. and while i can't direct them, i can certainly learn from their experiences overseas because there are security folks, you know, doing things that my agents can barely do. >> just in terms of come in keeping with the theme of following the money. as we have tried to follow the money a little bit with these cases in our organization, we hear repeatedly and consistently from both u.s. government sources as well as foreign government sources that there is
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a sentiment, a growing sentiment among this criminal element that made been involved one time in the movement of illegal drugs, you know, connecting networks in terms of moving actual product, a financing. a shift from other transnational criminal activities, the it as i say narcotics or human trafficking or what have you, to counterfeit drugs. and the principal reason that they have posited is that it's a high profit and low consequence crime, for many of them, in comparison to, say, narcotics here in the states survey. you mentioned in your remarks that these increased dose, if you get your crystal ball, are we there yet? have we solved this problem on the u.s.? >> i don't think -- i think we have tools before. john mentioned the fraud statutes. we've always been able to charge
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conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud. if you're selling the drugs via the internet, there's wire fraud. there's mail fraud when the packages coming. so we have increased penalties. we are not confined to that three-year felony in the food drug cosmetic act. and i don't think we've been constrained. it's a matter of convincing courts sometimes that we take this seriously. to determine the fraud laws that drives the guidelines. and one of the things that fdasia did was direct a sense, u.s. sentencing commission to do a review of the sentencing guidelines, regarding counterfeit drug offenses. so i think we may see some increases there. there may be some enhancements that were not there before. so i'm not sure if -- >> it does indeed. thank you so much. why don't we open it up.
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we will go here and maybe -- is there another one somewhere? >> the hi. dr. rogers. there's been, there's been at least one federal case that both oci and doj where part of, we say, that recently concluded with guilty pleas were a drug pedigrees were involved in some way. i'm referring here to the lab in your cargo theft a few years ago, and then it was reintroduced into the legitimate supply chain. and at least one person, two people actually pled guilty to that, recently sentenced. i'm hoping now that that is concluded if you could come and give us an idea how important that pedigree was, if at all in the investigation, prosecuting and obtaining guilty pleas in that case.
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>> the drug had agreed is to a very important it is really the only thing we have to track these drugs, and to be able, if they made a false pedigree, that means they falsified so they got from somewhere and didn't, that's one of the charges. under the food, drug, and cosmetic act they can be charged with. you know, it's not counted things we don't the counterfeiting charge. that pedigree is important, and you know, we've talked about other ways of track and trace. instead of the pedigree, that pedigree, in that case, in a lot of cases involving the domestic supply chain is incredibly important. ..
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>> day and night differences in state, a lot of felons and criminals who get licenses to be a wholesaler. small little mom and pop shops. you know, one time we had talked about maybe putting a food and drug administration maybe a licensing requirement on that or a federal licensing requirement on that so we can tighten up the rules on 'em. i mean, admittedly, we've got about 25 really good regional
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wholesalers, and we've got three excellent national wholesalers, and then we've got 5-6,000 secondary wholesalers. they're all fighting over 5% of the market. and it's those phi or six -- five or six thousand that have got me confused, i can't figure out. did you think we could ever go that way? do you think from a law point of view that might tighten the system down? >> um, i can say, you know, through years of working these investigations that, yeah, the wholesalers are a, um, a big hinge point in where these, um, bad drugs are getting in. um, and i'm not saying all the wholesalers. like you said, there's a lot of good ones out there. but i think that is a huge hole, and i think that, um, you know, in my personal opinion of working these drug investigations that, yeah, it would be better if they were all
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operating on the same, um, principles, registered by the same source, reviewed and inspected by the same sources, um, and that all that was even. so, um, whether that can actually be done in reality, i don't know, and and i don't know, you know, i don't want to speak on behalf of my agency. i don't know if they would, you know, support that or not. that's high bo me. [laughter] >> building off of that question if i can just jump in and build on the marvelous question, we've spoken about collaborations internationally with foreign governments. how about at the private level? what kind of engagement do you get from private companies as you conduct these investigations. linda, you mentioned, you know, the integral role of the banking industry, the, you know, supply chain companies and so on and so forth.
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when you're conducting these investigations, are they forthcoming, you know, this is you're painting with a wide brush here, but how would you grade them, excellent, satisfactory or needs improvement? >> needs improvement. [laughter] >> yeah. >> i think it depends. i mean, there are certain sectors that enable this. so whether it's shipping companies that are picking up packages and delivering packages, the problem is the bad guys game the system, so they find ways to change the names on the accounts, have deliveries to somewhere with or from somewhere other than where the source is. so it, you know, there's a lot of, um, places where you could put your finger in the dike, you know? and whether it's merchant bank accounts, shipping companies, there's a lot of places along
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the way where things can happen. but somebody who signs up for a merchant bank account and says they sell nutritional supplements and disguises the names of their web site, it's pretty hard to hold that merchant account or the agent for the merchant account, you know, responsible. but there have been prosecutions against folks like that who are signing up internet pharmacy. certainly, companies have paid lots of money because of the way they have, um, dealt with internet pharmacy, for example. ads, google, half a billion dollars. that's a lot of money. >> i think you're right, i think it probably needs improvement in some areas, but i think it has been improving. a while back visa wasn't very cooperative in trying to be proactive against these internet pharmacies, but i think now
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they're getting on the bandwagon as evidenced earlier with that quote -- [laughter] burning up with napalm. >> yeah. >> but, you know, they're better. there's the center for safe internet pharmacies that launched, um, which is a lot of the internet community coming together to go against these, um, online pharmacies. so -- >> and i think some banks have been pulling the plugs. some of the affiliates for a while for some of these internet pharmacies, um, they were getting paid through an online payment system. they pulled the plug, and when you read the affiliate forums that are online, you find out, um, who's actually taking, um, action in these sectors, in many these various sectors because the affiliates complained. >> and so the level of engagement, we're going to go right here, the level of engagement, though, da and nancy, in terms of engaging, is the express carriers, the ones
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that are actually physically moving the product sometimes. is that -- how robust is our engagement with those, with that segment of the -- >> i know a number of years ago we were engaged with them, um, but i don't know if there's anything going on recently. um, so i can't really -- >> what -- if you're talking about packages, say, from internet pharmacies, there is engagement. but packages coming from out of the country, you know, it's pretty hard. it depends on if, um, you know, if anything's declared. if it's declared properly. um, you have sort of two tracks, you have the things coming into the postal system, and you have things coming in through private carriers, and, um, cbp has a lot of things to look for, not just drugs. >> they do. >> they have a lot of things to look for. and so, um, i'd love for them to be able to grab every package of drugs that comes in.
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they're just not able to, you know? >> sure. >> derek rogers, rx trace. each year the fda/oci publishes an account of the new counterfeit drug cases they've opened that year. can you give us an approximate split between the cases reflected in that number that are internet related as opposed to just legitimate supply chain related, sort of the way mr. heddell did for the last ten years or so? >> i can't give you a number off the top of my head, obviously, but a lot of them do involve internet. a lot of them do involve internet cases. and keep in mind those are the number of cases opened. that doesn't reflect the number of convictions, it doesn't reflect the number of suspects, it doesn't reflect, you know, one case could have one counterfeit drug, or it could have five different counterfeit drugs, or it could have one bottle of a counterfeit drug, or
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it could have, you know, hundreds of bottles of a counterfeit drug. so that is simply just the number of cases open. and we're pretty strict with our counting of counterfeit drug cases. you know, for us it's counterfeit. it's a trademark violation, or it's, um, you know, the strict food and drug counterfeit violation. it doesn't include drugs that are misbranded or adulterated or unapproved that are coming into the country. those fall into a different category. so, um, we're very strict with that definition of counterfeit when we count those statistics. >> well, nancy and linda, i regret to say that we are out of time, but thank you so much for this. very much appreciated. [applause] >> more from this conference now with remarks from food and drug administration commissioner margaret hamburg. she speak speaks for about 20 minutes. >> thank you, and it's really a
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pleasure to be here once again with the partnership for safe medicines. this is a really important topic, to me personally and professionally. and really given our shared commitment to make our nation's drug supplies safe, effective, secure and high quality as possible, the work with the partnership is very, very meaningful to us. they've been an important and reliable ally for fda, and we so value, um, the work of the partnership. given the enormity of the challenge in front of us to protect the american people from contaminated counterfeit, substandard and other unsafe drugs at a time when the marketplace is global, when the speed of communications is near instantaneous and the money to be made through deception and fraud seems almost limitless, my goal is to make our already strong partnership even stronger
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and more effective. i'm also pleased to have this opportunity to talk with so many leaders from public health, law enforcement, industry and government about this pressing and really important public health challenge. and i want to offer an update on the progress that we've made since i was last here which already is two years ago which i don't know where the time goes. um, but we have been busy and have improved our strategies and our engagements to address the increasingly complex supply chain that we now regulate. and then i want to tell you a little bit about be safe rx, know your online pharmacy, which is our new national campaign that you've heard a little bit about, and it's designed to educate consumers who purchase medications over the internet. president kennedy liked to say we must think and act not be only for the moment, but for our time. and the 21st century is really our time. and as i've already suggested,
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we're seeking to address a series and far-reaching problem, one that, sadly, is growing and one that has very real consequences now and for the future. we need to work together on effective and sustainable strategies that will enable us to stay ahead of the many avenues the criminals are finding to profit by putting the health and lives of our american citizens at risk. so over the last two years, we've continued to put in place administrative, law enforcement, technological and collaborative tools that we think are necessary to win this battle against 21st century snake oil peddlers. since i was last with you, fda issued our pathway to global product safety, quality and global engagement report, and this addresses the complex and profound ways globalization has changed the drug supply chain. our new operating model relies
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on building global coalitions of regulatory authorities, enhanced intelligence and information sharing systems, data-driven risk analysis and a smart allocation of resources through partnerships. more specifically, we're working with the global public health community to strengthen regulatory capacity here and around the world, harmonized by standards, utilize risk-based monitoring and inspection, improve global surveillance, preparedness and emergency response and to advance regulatory science. also, two years ago i told you drug security was a top priority at fda. we now have the office up and running applying new resources and strategies to the problems of counterfeiting, intentional
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adulteration, diversion, cargo threats and other threats to the drug supply chain. but perhaps the most important development is the passage of the food and drug administration's safety and innovation act of 2012, or what we fondly call fdasia. it provides critical resources to strengthen our review systems and support regulatory science, to improve patient access to new and better treatments and to alleviate shortages. it also gives the fda important new authorities to protect the integrity of the drug supply chain. thanks to fdasia we receive enhanced information about drug manufacturers and their establishments and have the authority to develop a risk-based schedule to inspect those establishments. we'll be able to obtain records prior to an inspection, and fda can refuse admission of drugs to
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the u.s. that were manufactured in foreign be establishments that delayed, denied, limited or refused fda inspection. fda also now has the authority to put if place new processes -- to put in place new processes to allow for the destruction of small mail packages of illegal drugs which will deter purchases from illegal foreign internet pharmacies. under fdasia, communications with foreign regulatory agencies will improve. the definition of good manufacturing practices is more explicit including quality systems and risk management. and registration of commercial importers is required. importantly, fdasia also requires notification to fda if a drug is stolen or counterfeited, or if the use of a drug may result in serious injury or death. additionally, as you have already heard most likely from my colleagues who spoke earlier,
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fdasia provides for enhanced criminal penalties for counterfeiting and makes explicit fda's extraterritorial jurisdiction. counterfeit and adulterated medical products are not new problems, but we do have to address them in some new ways. the fda, in fact, as scott mentioned, was created back in 1906 in order to address serious concerns about adulterated foods and medical treatments. but what has really changed is globalization. today approximately 80% of the manufacturing sites for the active ingredients in fda-approved drugs are outside of the united states, and about 40% of finished drugs that are on u.s. shelves, um, may be being used by you, are actually coming from foreign establishments that are registered with fda. in total there are about some 300,000 different facilities spread across 150 countries that
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are sending fda-regulated products to our shores. globalization has really changed the challenges before us because of the increase in numbers, but also globalization means longer and much more complex supply chains that can start almost anywhere. and at every step along this global supply chain from raw materials to finished product, there are entry points and opportunities for products to be contaminated, diverted, counterfeited or in some other way adulterated by a web of middlemen such as repackagers and distributers. the american people have every right to expect that medicines they rely on will, in fact, be what the package and label say they are. and that the medicines have been carefully evaluated by fda for safety, efficacy and quality. but unscrupulous players continue to try to introduce
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counterfeit and intentionally-adulterated drugs. we know these can be dangerous because they contain too much, too little, the wrong active ingredient or no active ingredient at all in addition to being mislabeled. the wrong active ingredient can be harmful. the wrong active ingredient or no active ingredient means a patient is not getting the treatment they need and could even experience unexpected side effects or serious, even lethal, drug interactions. drugs can also be adulterated if they're not handled, stored or transported properly. and back in 2009, some of you may remember, there was a case where insulin which requires refrigeration was stolen, stored improperly, lost its poe potenc, and then it was reintroduced into the supply chain. and when it was reintroduced in patients who needed it, used it,
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it failed to control their glucose, putting them seriously at risk. although, thankfully, cases of counterfeit and intentionally-adulterated drugs reaching the american consumer are rare, they're not unheard of, and they do pose a real harm. again, be of you -- many of you no doubt recall back in 2008 when the fda learned that a large number of patients who were taking heparin were experiencing some unusual allergic reactions, and in a few cases there appeared to be related deaths. our scientists determined that the contaminant known by the initials oscs had been intentionally added to the heparin. just as important, we at the fda identified preliminary testing methods to quickly distinguish contaminated from uncontaminated heparin and requested that manufacturers and suppliers of the drug test their supplies using the new methodology.
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enabling, really, what was quite a rapid response to this unexpected contamination and giving us and our colleagues and stakeholders, um, the tools they needed to make a difference. and following the heparin crisis, learning from a deeper understanding of the nature of this kind of adulteration, we decided to rank more than a thousand active pharmaceutical ingredients in order of their respective risk of economically-motivated adulteration. so we're trying to be as proactive as possible in preventing drug
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we have an extraordinary team of scientists and engineers developing tools to improve detection and suspected adulterated and counterfeit drugs before these dangerous commodities get into the hands of consumers. and earlier this month i had the opportunity to talk about and help demonstrate a new device recently developed and patented by our forensic chemistry center. the device is called counterfeit detection device number three. and we have teased our colleagues that we might want to have a slightly better man for this iphone torian troy might sell more. but it is really a very exciting
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device because it's low cost compared to other analytical devices but it provides a big value in our efforts to quickly spring for potential problem products. most importantly, it allows for real time on site comparisons and is already proven very useful for examining at some of our busy international mail facilities. the cd three is only one example of the cutting edge science and technology that the fda is developing and deploying to quickly discovered and stop counterfeit and intentionally and adultery did drugs when they are trying to make their way into the u.s. drug supply. but as much as i believe in the power of science and statistical analysis and technology to address these problems as much as i believe in the necessity of tough law enforcement, and i do, and as much as i believe in the benefits of collaboration, such
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as with the partnership for safe medicine, i also believe that we must unleash the power of an educated public and in promoting good health and helping to protect themselves from unsafe drugs. when armed with the right information, consumers can take control and leave the purveyors of the adults raided counterfeit drugs holding worthless products they can't sell to inform americans who won't be stemmed. while we work with manufacturers to ensure safe effective high-quality drugs are available for u.s. consumers and it's a fundamental part of our mission and our charge we continue to find the bad actors, people who are making counterfeit or other substandard drugs who don't care about who they are harming and putting profit over public health. we still find these bad actors and while we try to address them in many ways, we feel we need a
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more pro-active approach to combating their nefarious efforts and one important way is to help consumers take ownership of their own health by giving them the facts they need about where their medicines come from and how to make informed traces. combined with this is the challenge of the internet. it's the tool of choice for bogus pharmacies which adds another layer of complexity in the fight against the sale of counterfeits intentionally adulterated drugs and other products. and based on a recent survey, we found out that about 23% of the surveyed adults that for internet users bodying prescription drugs over the internet, with about 30% of the responders said they had no real idea to make sure the pharmacies they were purchasing from in fact were safe and legitimate. so that's why we decided to do
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this campaign, fda's be safe campaign that was announced today. the objective be safe rx are to raise awareness of the health risks of ordering prescription medicine through fraudulent online pharmacies, never to come teach consumers what steps to take to help them identify safe legal online pharmacies, and number three, to motivate consumers to use the new resources that were making available so that they can make informed choices to protect their health. buying certain medicine over the internet is not in and of itself illegal. to order prescription medicines through mail order pharmacies provide convenience while also saving time and money. that said, illegal online pharmacies number in the thousands with possibly as few as 3% meeting federal and state
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law over practice standards according to the review the was done by the national association of boards of pharmacy. more importantly, people who do buy medication for fraudulent illegal online pharmacies are often on knowingly putting their health and the health of their families and serious health risks. the state online pharmacies use cut-rate prices, phony return addresses and 800 numbers and elaborate marketing schemes with authentic looking websites to sell their goods. some even include fda logos in their advertising to the fda doesn't have anything to do with improving or even licensing pharmacies. licensing a pharmacy as you probably know is actually done at the state level. these website also tend to offer deep discounts with prices people might think seem to be
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too good to be true, and that is in fact because it is too good to be true. so, be safe rx is trying to focus on these issues and understand what american consumers are looking for but also help them help themselves to be safe. our new web site is where we offer advice on how consumers can protect themselves from fraudulent a legal online pharmacies. patience and care givers can go to the site to better understand the potential risk of what they're buying and who they are buying from when using the internet. the campaign includes fact sheets and other consumer friendly tools to help the patient and care givers like sarva and save trees is on their purchasing medications online. my more general message to the public is this, know the difference between a safe online
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pharmacy and in unsafe one. consumers should be wary of any pharmacy that allows you to buy without a prescription. spam or unsolicited e-mails offering discounts that ships prescriptions worldwide or from a foreign country or is located outside of the united states. on the other hand, a safe online pharmacy will require a prescription from your doctor or other health professional and will be located and licensed in the united states. we want the american people to know the risks come to know the signs come and to know their online pharmacy before they buy, and besaferx. health professionals can play a very important role making sure their patients are not purchasing on safe medicine
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online. if a medicine doesn't seem to be having the desired effect, ask your patient where he or she obtained the prescription, and when you talk to your patient, take a few minutes to warn them about the potential danger of purchasing medicines over the internet. in the age of the internet advice about online pharmacies and the availability of the besaferx should be part of the conversation that doctors and other health professionals have with their patients. the besaferx campaign is an important and much-needed step towards keeping the american people safe, healthy and protected from unsafe ineffective and poor clean as it did become edison sold online, but it's not the only step that we need to be doing and that we get the fda are committed to. fda and the partnership for safe medicine need to continue to work together to educate
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patients come to advocate for patients and for tough law enforcement to protect patients. the partnership for safe medicines has been a steadfast and consistent voice towards these goals. in doing so, you felt the american people be safe from products the sold as legitimate medicines that he'll but all are far more likely to be dangerous. for that, you have my depreciation and commitment. we must continue to work together and we must build on the success that we've already achieved together and we must continue to put the safety and health of the public as our first and foremost priority so thank you for your time and the good work that all of you do in the various positions that you hold, and your commitment to this critical public health concern. thank you so much. [applause]
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we need to tackle the nation's children just before the tackle us. we need to save and strengthen medicare and social security, and we are putting the ideas on the table how to do that. we are not going to try to scare seniors we are going to save the benefits for seniors and for my generation so that these
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promises are kept. >> they have laid out clearly that with barack obama and joe biden the endangered medicare. they've stolen money from medicare and they've done it to get obamacare, and you've seen the ads and you hear it in everything they say. nothing can be further from the truth.
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a joint house and senate veterans' affairs committee hearing convened yesterday on legislative priorities of veterans services organizations. the national commander of the american legion was among the witnesses saying that the backlog of claims is creating mistrust among veterans the were promised benefits if they should become disabled. from capitol hill this is about an hour-and-a-half. >> good morning everybody. if thank u.s so much for being here. we appreciate you making the
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trip to washington. i am pleased to be joined by colleagues from not only across the capitol, but across the aisle as well, and as i told some of you this morning at breakfast, you know few weeks ago, so a lot of members are not in washington today. senator boozman flew in this morning as a matter of fact. i came in last night and got caught in the fall to the deval you probably just drove down, didn't you? [laughter] >> but we thank you for being here and rest assured that all of the members will not only receive the full testimony of the commander, but also from the questions that are going to be given here, we are webcasting as well so folks will be able to see this streaming live, and also it will be stored on the
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internet so folks can look and see for themselves. and i have got a full statement that i want to enter into the record but i do want to extend a very warm welcome to your new commander. we are glad to have you. was a pleasure to meet you this morning. the 2012, 2013 national commander james koutz. we are pleased to have you with us here today. we look forward to your testimony and learning from you where the legion stands on your legislative agenda and we also want to welcome the legion's of salary that year as well. of course my friends from florida who i had a chance to visit with this morning at breakfast very briefly, but i -- instead of me going through a complete statement, i ask unanimous consent that i can enter the full statement into
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the record, and with that i would like to go ahead and introduce -- let's see. t want to give a quick opening statement? >> thank you very much. i would like to welcome the national commander here this morning as well as the national president of the american legion auxiliary and i want to thank both of you for your advocacy come for the veterans and enduring support that the american legion's over 2.5 million members have given for the veterans. before we start i would also like to extend compliments to your washington, d.c. staff to let you know that the staff here in washington, d.c. it's a
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pleasure working with them but they also are out there each and every day fighting for the american legion priorities. i want to thank you, national commander, for an excellent staff that you have here in washington. i also would like to recognize and ask them to stand in the audience the folks from maine that took the time to be here today. i know they think they are still out in the audience with the american legion members please stand up. i'd like to thank both of you for coming here today as well. [applause] these committees are charged with oversight of the department of veterans affairs and the budget, and while it has been busy and frustrating, we've been able to accomplish a lot over the last couple of years, and we must also make sure that we provide the best care and service for our veterans, and we need to first of all understand
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how the veterans' population is growing, changing and where they are located geographically. and in 2011, we had just over 22 million veterans with 34 million dependent scummy and we had 450,000 survivors of deceased veterans receiving compensation. i was pleased to see the budget for 2013 reflect many of these changes, but they must do better to outreach for the veterans particularly those that live in rural areas, and do better with the dependence. the va 2013 overall budget is $140 billion, an increase from the 2012 request. and because of the hard work of many individuals here in this room, advanced appropriations continue to help with long-term planning with advanced appropriation we ensure sufficient time become
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predictable funding for the veterans' health care. but advanced appropriation only works when we work together to pass a long-term appropriation bill as well. short-term continuing resolutions are not helpful in the planning process and we have to do better as the members of congress on both sides of the aisle. although congress may disagree on a lot of things, i hope that we can agree on providing strong appropriations for the va in a non-partisan effort, and in that regard i reflect thank chairman miller for all of the hard efforts at work that he has gone on the house side to make sure the committee works in a bipartisan manner. i was troubled by the july report from cbs news that sound suicide rates for the soldiers is up 80%. the veterans are returning from war with invisible wounds that need treatment, but our duty
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toward discouraging for seeking those treatments for various reasons and that as a nation we can do better and we must get this right. and to the american legion, i ask you to continue help in this regard as you lobby the committee on veterans affairs. i hope your also logging the committees on the armed services to make sure that they are dealing with this issue as well. care must begin with a person that is on active duty before they take off the uniform and become veterans as well. service members also will get another area of effort. we've got to do better on and that is for military training. we look at jobs, service members are experienced in many different fields that can be varied such as electronics, medicine, air-traffic control, we have to do everything we can as a conference to help our veterans find jobs when they
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come back and i think it's important for the american legion to get a broad reach and all the different states to make sure that the states are doing the same thing as well to make it easier for our veterans to find jobs as well. with that i would ask for the remainder of my statement to be included in the record, and again i want to thank you and the national commander for being here today and all of the members from the american legion. >> without objection, so ordered. senator boozman is going to yield his time at this point. senator lugar, i understand you have a prior commitment. and in so keeping with your schedule, we appreciate you being here today to introduce the national commander for 2012 and for 2013, commander james koutz we appreciate you being here. you don't remember this that i met you for the first time in
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1997 up here in washington and so i have great respect and admiration for you, senator from indiana is recognized, sir. >> distinguished members of the house and veterans committee, i deeply appreciate this opportunity to address the joint committee in order to introduce a very distinguished hoosier the american legion national commander james koutz as he presents his organization's current legislative priorities to the committee. over the course of my service, the united states senate i have had the distinct honor to spend considerable time with the service members and veteran's from all branches of the military. each time of year reminded of how fortunate we are as a nation to have so many young men and women who were willing to step forward now to defend the ideals upon which our republic was
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founded. it's one of our duties and congress to ensure that those who bear considerable burden in defending the nation in military service can receive the care and support that they have earned upon their return to civilian life. since its founding in 1919, the american legion and its members worked closely with officials at the local, state and federal levels in providing the support. i am also very proud and note that the american legion is headquartered in my home town of indianapolis indiana. i am especially pleased to meet with jim most recently in august during the american legion's 94th national convention in the indianapolis where he was elected to serve as a national commander. he brings a wealth of experience to the post. this includes his own service in the united states army in vietnam. more than two decades in the
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private sector in the coal company. his election as a county commissioner in boreman county indiana and service to the veterans of our state is a member and president of the indian of veterans affairs commission. i am confident the talent and vigilance that he is exemplified has been the hallmark today and will continue to serve the american legion during his time in office. i would like again to thank the leadership and the members of the respective veterans affairs committee assembled here today for calling this important hearing. i wish jim and his wife vickie every success in their service to the 2.4 million veterans that make up the american legion, and i look forward to learning much more about the american legion's important priorities and supporting those in the future.
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i thank the chair. >> thank you, senator, for being with us today and we know that your schedule is tight this morning, so whenever you need to deport, please feel free to do so. commander koutz, you are now recognized. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to thank the senator from indiana, senator lugar for the kind introduction. good morning, chairman miller and members of the committee. first let me state how proud i am that you to gone to have this empty chair behind me. i understand this is the first time and i hope it is not the last time. thank you. on behalf of the 2.4 million members of the legion i appreciate the opportunity to testify before you this morning. prior to getting into the details of the written testimony, i would like to introduce some of the national
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officers will serve with me this year. as i call their names i would ask that they would stand and be recognized. national commanders david hall out of west virginia. glenn, department in ohio, james holland south carolina, james wheelan from new hampshire and janet of nevada. the national sergeant arms from indiana. the national dan wheeler and the national treasure george whisker. please, stand and be recognized. thank you. [applause] i would like to take a moment to give special meaning in the audience who fully comprehend what i am just beginning to understand, what it means to sacrifice the year of your life to be the face of this great
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organization. past national commanders in the region. would you please stand and be recognized? [applause] next divestitures the leadership of the american legion oxalate. the nation's largest patriotic women's realization. please stand as i call your name and the demise. in national president peggy thomas from virginia. national vice president nancy brown park from california. the national secretary mary buckler from indiana. [applause] we also have several past national president of the oxalate joining us today. i would like for them to stand and be recognized. with us today is the national commander of the american legion.
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chris from the department of pennsylvania. chris, please stand and be recognized. [applause] in addition, several of the men present serve as the national commander as the songs of the american legion. gentlemen, would you please stand and be recognized? >> most importantly, i would like to take this opportunity to introduce and thank my wonderful wife, my best friend, the vicki. [applause] a month from now u.s. citizens will go over the poles across the country from the cast ballots in the general election. we will be focused on the great landscape beyond the beltway. that's where i come from and you will find the american legion. you will find the town's in the west helping the veterans meet
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that trip to the medical center. the american legion is promoting and hosting more than 200 job fears throughout this nation. the american legion service officers are working day and night to help the veterans understand the claims and file the applications that won't get stuck in the massive backlog. the american legion is in your district, your home town and your neighborhood. for nearly a century, this organization that's fulfilled the spirit of the federal charter in ways that can't easily be quantified. suffice it to say that millions of hours are putting into the lesions and millions of dollars are raised to help the veterans and their families, and millions of lives are touched every year all through america by the american legion. i spent more than 300 days traveling as a nation and sometimes beyond visiting
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veterans, active-duty troops and patriotic americans everywhere. i will have a unique opportunity to see the faces and hear the stories of those that have sacrificed on behalf of the nation. they will ask me what the american legion is doing for them today. and they will last me with their elected officials are doing for them. they will want to know what you are doing to make things right for america's veterans and their families and communities. they have a good reason to ask. as the generation of troops come home from war, they are unsure about the future where the jobs come from. what if they can't get the war out of their - what if they need a doctor now they can't wait and see one in a month. they want to know what cuts in the defense budget and the small the veterans need to know that the american legion and our businesses and factories that apply to defense contractors and elected officials are working hard to resolve these issues veteran's.
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will the businesses the shutdown? they swore to protect and will weaken the national defend. security because the weakened these men and women sacrificed in ways that we are only economy? these are tough questions. beginning to understand. their families have and will. it's up to us to ensure the sacrifices are rewarded the promise of a brighter future. that brighter future we all know depends on the ability to earn a decent living. in my written testimony you will find jobs along the american legion's list of priorities. a stronger economy improved career prospects for veterans will the real long way towards solving a number of problems facing the nation today. it's no secret the large percentage of americans veterans are struggling to find work having faced rates as much as 2/3 higher that in the civilian population in the past year.
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the american legion has been to the forefront to combat the federal and joblessness and we all know we have an ally in this congress. specifically i asked the progress made in the military experience for the credit licenses and credentials in a number of trade and career paths for veterans. it's just common sense that those that drove humvees and do firefights delivering supplies to the forward operating basis ought to have a leg up when they pursue over the road truck driving certification of civilians. many who save lives on battlefields don't need to start one. when they are working to become civilian emt. the american legion has been fighting the battle longer than anybody else. since the landmark study of the
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service for veterans in 1997 we have worked with concerned parties in both the government and private sector. we have been on the hill at the pentagon, with the department of labor, side by side with representatives and provincial task forces and in the board rooms across this country during results. you have worked with us to meet the landmark strike identification's which the legislation such as the recent vow to hire the veterans act and the veterans skills to the job act of 2012. we are grateful for this occasion and cooperation the congress has shown us on this issue. clearly you've heard the concerns of the veterans we appreciate everything on the federal level. but we cannot let up as the american legion works to capitalize on the gains and
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increase our efforts we need to support to keep working with the states to improve their acceptance of military training and as a federal government has already done. legislation white high your home act can help state level efforts recognized military training, education and experience. the american legion's are now working with groups such as the american national standards institute, the solutions of information design to advise u.s. army training and doctrine on the provincial link to evaluate the programs of the destruction may provide while the men and women still wear the uniform. we all need to recognize the top quality education and training men and women of the united states armed forces received when they are serving the country. we are working with the united states chamber of commerce and group military to produce hundreds of hiring
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across this country from big cities to small towns, convention centers to the american legion post. if you've not been to one of these events, i strongly encourage you to do so. there you will see first hand the quality of the returning servicemen and women, and lawyers to understand their value and the legions who are dedicated to improving their lives. the men and women that offer the country should not have to fight for a job when they return home. veterans, their families and the american legion will keep working to revive the nation's economy. efforts to improve opportunities through the licensing and proof of shares at development must continue. for the veterans to get a job and earn a decent income has been diminished because of
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sacrifices made in uniform. that is why we simply must come up with a solution to a problem that has been with us for years. unfortunately it has gotten worse. the backlog. i would challenge anyone in this room to recall a time when the american legion didn't come before this congress looking for answers to this worsening problem. among the veterans in every corner of the nation, many who wait months or even years for decisions about their claims, this is not just some nagging bureaucratic nuisance. the claims backlog which is now hovering at about 1 million cases is a gathering storm of mistrust between those that fought for their nation and those that promise benefits if they should become disabled. our government's failure to decide the claims on time is on
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excusable. these efforts to obtain the backlog have not produced positive results. the american legion service officers are working across the clock to help veterans through their process, and we all know that they have added employees to help solve the problem. but this is clearly not enough. secretary shinseki has promised to break the back of the backlog by 2015, and yet with more new claims outpacing the decisions, we are going the wrong direction. the congress can no longer simply be concerned about this problem. the congress, the va and the legion must work togetr to solve a and that does not mean they're rewarding process for the fast decisions regardless of quality. we have found an alarming amount of inaccuracy of claims decisions made in the va regional offices throughout the country and that only slows down
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the progress. earlier this year when the congress summoned the service offices for the hearing about the backlog, we were encouraged. the service officers at the front line of the battle every day. they have a unique perspective that can help va content with this biggest issue. we have seen many pilot programs and promises from the va. it's time to roll across leaves and really fix what is wrong with this system. if the social security administration and other federal benefits programs can handle their claims in a timely manner, the veterans cannot understand why the va cannot. in the american legion we have made trending for the service officers a top priority. it's a part of the job, not something that gets in the way of the job. we bring our service officers together for training twice a
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year. they make recommendations based on a complex system they must navigate on a daily basis. they are the ones that can see the full in the system and rewards quantity over quality. they're simply has to be a better way to get this done. for instance, the va can start counting the claims done right as a positive and claims done wrong as a negative. so everyone could have more accurate picture of what is really getting done in these offices. veterans' waiting passed the realistic target date might be with interest on their claims creating an incentive for the va to get the claims decided on time. there are ways to work with the mechanics of the system to make it serve the veteran and not the bureaucrats. we are willing to roll up our sleeves and work with you to find those ways.
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the american legion has people in the trenches who not only understand the problems, but contribute to the solution. veterans are tired of hearing how the government is working on ending a backlog that continues to grow. veterans in the american legion are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain that. remember, we are all partners in this. everyone knows the claims process is confusing for veterans. the american legion is there with services to help navigate the system and make things easier for both the veteran and the va. personnel who have decided their claims nobody gets charged a penny for the service, not the veteran, not the government. we are out there working to put these claims in order. we help make it easier for them by putting them in touch with the people who are dedicating
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their time and effort to meet the process easier for those veterans. we work with congressional veterans organizations to get the chance of transitioning veterans in contact with those that can make it more smooth. if you were to hand them off to us we will not foresee that trust. we will work to make them do that transition into a crowd patriotic and productive phase with the life of a civilian veteran. the american legion understands the nation is in a budget crisis. the lack of which has not been seen in over a generation. first and foremost, our nation's veterans are deeply concerned about the the national security in the face of what drastic defense spending cuts. equally important, the american legion has the protection of the va and veterans programs administered and other federal agencies. thanks to the timeless work of
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the committee and especially you, chairman miller, congress and the white house have read assured us that the va look sent from sequestration. unfortunately, many programs important to veterans are funded by agencies outside of the va, arlington national cemetery, the american battle monuments commission, the joint prisoners of the war accounting command and the department of labor's that program, hud and others. veterans are seriously concerned these important government functions will be compromised or cut in order to make ends meet. that doesn't even begin to address the massive cuts that would be levied against the nation's defense which is supposed to bear half of the $1.2 trillion burden that couldn't be relieved by the
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super committee last winter. the department of defense has asked to bear the burden while u.s. men and women are still not war with hostile enemies in afghanistan and all around the world. the american legion has been promised that the budget wouldn't be balanced on the backs of the veterans. if the department of defense grow the diminished quality-of-life for the troops were put more pressure on the national reserve components it is clear that the on fair portion of the responsibility is falling upon the shoulders of america's future and current veterans. while the budget doesn't fall squarely on the shoulders of the house and senate veterans' affairs committee we urge you to work with your colleagues to find the right balance without sacrificing the nation's ability to defend itself or to care for its protectors. i am grateful for the work this
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congress has done on behalf of our veterans. i will tell the legion's throughout this country that their elected officials are in fact working with us, the stakeholders, to solve some very serious problems. i will explain to them our voices matter in washington and we are being heard. it is time for all of us o act in those voices and make good on our promises to the men and women that have served. thank you for the opportunity to come before you and renew the commitment with the american legion to work closely with congress to ensure that we are meeting the nation's obligations to its veterans. the american legion has been there for america's service members, veterans and their families. our organization is a voice with the hundreds and thousands of men and women serving today in the military who are unable to speak for themselves.
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the american legion is there for millions of veterans, many of comey there are too proud or humble to demand the benefits that they have earned. the american legion is there to give you, our elected officials a direct line of communication with a very special breed of constituents those that have pledged their lives to the nation that we love. it's much more than a political sense to address the questions. problems and issues in the nation's veterans and families face today. it is a sacred obligation i think we all can agree on that. thank you, god bless you and the united states of america. [applause]
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thank you very much. we appreciate your testimony and look forward to the opportunity to ask some questions momentarily, but senator begich from alaska has arrived and since the house had an opportunity to give our opening statements and prior to your comments, i would like to recognize senator begich. good to see you, sir. >> thanks. i will try to be brief first commander thank you for your testimony and being partisan. all of the members that are here today, i know as the congress the senate is out, but there's a couple of us here that want to make sure the senate is represented and we care deeply about what is going on with the veterans and the issue of the committee not only in the nation boe across the state. i want to make a note passed the national commander i caught a glimpse of him over here. finton for travel and all the
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way from alaska. if someone here gets a special award for travelling distance thank if you very much for being here. mr. chairman, thank you once again for having this meeting. it's always important for us here in washington to hear from all of you of what we need to be doing and how we are doing and what job improvements made to have with regards to our veterans as well as and i know at times we talk about the active military and i know you have lots of ideas so please, don't hesitate to read as you know the conference passed a pretty significant piece of legislation honoring the american veterans and caring for camp lejeune act which really helped improve many fronts enhancing specialty adapted housing programs for disabled veterans improving the ability to end homelessness among veterans and providing health care for veterans, family members exposed to toxic drinking water and leaving
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several inefficiencies in the claims process, but honestly as we all know more to be done for expanding the critical health care for the veterans. and a special thank you to the va. i know we are always trying to hold them accountable and sometimes we have to push them a little bit extra. but there is one thing they did for the convention was critical. and i want to thank your organization for supporting this effort and that is the va and the health services in the historic pact of cooperation arnall ensuring that veterans that are in rural alaska which in some cases 80% are not accessible by road, so they can't get in the veteran fannin goodell to the clinic because there is no van to take them to the clinic because there is no road to take them to a clinic. you have to fly and it could be a thousand or more dollars, the va for the services and the
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clinics throughout alaska are now in cooperative effort to ensure that veterans' no matter where they live in any part of alaska's bering to get access to quality health care and that to me is a huge step for the thousands of veterans and alaska so please delete to speak to you for supporting that and to the va for being innovative in their efforts so thank you all for being here and i will listen to the continued testimony. >> thanks, senator i like to recognize my friend from arkansas, senator boozman. >> thank you mr. chairman. it's good to be with you, and congressman michaud. many of you know i served in the house for a number of years and served with these guys for a long time. there's nobody that puts veterans first in regards to a great job not only you but it's a pleasure to deal with your staff on the side.
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this is kind of a unique fraternity starting in the veterans affairs committee in the house or senate this is an area where we really do work and get along and do things in a very bipartisan manner which is so important. senator begich, it's great to be with you. senator begich is a good friend and he and i have worked together on a number of bills having to do with women's issues and the transition of assistance programs like that. congratulations, thank you for being here. we appreciate you so much of your testimony was great. i also want to thank peggy. we know who really does the work among the group. i have a wife and three daughters, so i'm very aware but we do appreciate all that you do. also i thought it was nice, you mentioned your wife, your partner and friend and things
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and my dad did 20 years and airforce and i think it is representative to help through the years but also reduce so representative that when you were in the military is not just individual thing, it takes the whole family so we appreciate her being here and represent in that also. i want to recognize our folks from arkansas and state commander where are you? very good and then also steve gray to really appreciate you and all that you do to work so hard for the veterans and a state of arkansas and we have a number. certainly this is a very critical time for the nation's veterans, and so important that the legion -- so important that you are here. don't ever underestimate how important it is here. again, telling your congressmen and senators and staff which
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sometimes is even more important telling the staff how important these things are as we move forward. i know that all americans are very concerned about employment security, but veterans in particular are struggling with meaningful employment careers. this is certainly a very difficult economy. you mentioned the act and the veteran skills job act as you said certainly these are a step in the right direction, and again everyone deserves credit in a very bipartisan way for moving forward. yet there is still a number of things we can do and will do in that area. on the other hand, we have to be careful. certainly we want to do these efforts and we can't do those by mortgaging the future of the children and grandchildren by barring money from people like china. so we'll this again to the
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veterans in their honor and sacrifice. but we can do that. we can get that done and will get that done. the failure of the joint deficit committee has left us with the looming arbitrary cuts. those are being mentioned both from up here and down there. i am pleased that the house passed a bill that said no to read these cs are not going to affect military families, and certainly that is all of our position. we would like for the administration to clarify better that is set in concrete, so again, certainly as you said, commander we must make it perfectly clear that under no circumstances we cannot and will not balance the budget to solve the fiscal problems on the backs of the men and women in uniform and our veterans.
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[applause] i thought you all were napping. that is definitely an applause. and again, the good news is i think that we are all on board. thanks for your efforts of suicide prevention. that is something we are working on very, very hard. there are just a number of things in regard to that. the other thing that i am concerned about is military voting. that's something that if anybody has a right to vote its the men and women serving overseas. and so again i think in a favor a bipartisan way we are working to ensure that that's not going to be a problem. and so, we are going to press on in that front, and we appreciate you also doing likewise. so again, let's go ahead, mr. chairman. i know we have questions for the panel. >> thank, senator. we appreciate your comment, and again, because we have the house
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members and senators week may dispense with a typical five minute question period. i would probably ask a question and then turn to mr. michaud for senator begich so we can kind of have a little more free flow of discussion than we normally would in a process like this. i do want to draw attention to congratulate the door and thanked the u.s. chamber of commerce for the job fears that their holding around the country and held the opportunity a week ago or tuesday i guess it was to be in west palm beach with alan west attending a job fair, and they have been all over this country. for some reason they haven't been to my district yet. we will see if we can fix that. but your organization and others have been working collaborative for coming and we know that because the unemployment rate is so high among the returning veterans that something has to
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be done. we have seen a lot of the corporations around this country and small businesses as well that are joining together to make sure that we can use the talent that our military men and women have when they come home and a transition back to civilian life and that is something that again, you have helped us get that word out to the states' governors around the country that in fact the jobs they had in the military certainly should transition well into the private sector. i've said many times i have a good friend that is a home builder. he said give me someone in the military that knows how important it is to show up for work every day on time, has good critical skills and decision making skills and i can teach them how to build a house. but send me someone that knows how to build a house out cent of those skills and it's difficult to be successful and it's very true. with that i want to focus a little bit --
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>> can i just add to that mr. churn and -- >> no. [laughter] >> the chairman was talking about, you know, these job skills. last night i was at the airport at 5:00 so i was about 4 o'clock, but before that i was arriving at the police department and throughout the different areas trying to get a feel of how we could be helpful. but one of the things i mentioned is how desperately they need placement, and how much they like to return serve as men and women and the great job that they do. one of the things that they mentioned is the training process is so -- it takes a long time. and it just goes to what we have talked about getting certificates in the military said the military policemen want to complete his training he's given certificates that can take certificates from other training states and things like that, but
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they don't have the ability to do that there. so it just highlights what you're talking about and how we can do some of these things. again, to very quickly put some men and women in the work force. >> very true. because it is also a process of putting them together. the folks looking for people that want to work in getting them to work and that is where military out, and and a lot of other organizations have done a great job although the job is yet to be finished, but they are hoping that those folks together. i want to hone in if we can just a minute on the claims backlog because i think obviously that is a huge issue that's out there that everybody in this room is concerned about. congress is concerned about it, the department of veterans affairs is concerned about it, but it doesn't seem to be getting any better. secretary shinseki has said several times you quoted in your opening statement that by 2015,
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you know, within 125 days the idea was everybody would have their claims had adjudicated at 100%. well, it didn't happen. and unfortunately, we had a hearing just a couple of weeks ago where we kind of took a status check in the va where are you and the focus is more with a turning out which is exactly what you talked about and that's important the claims being adjudicated the backlog is growing and if you are not keeping up the net back log it is certainly not going to assist and fix the problem, so again, i would like to hear from you if you would your perspective on what are the things that can be done. what can the congress do legislatively if you will. we all talk about the electronic medical record, that is years away from being able to truly
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have that seeming was transition. we are moving in that direction, but we have got folks today awaiting one or two years in order to have their claims a deutsch indicated, and we have put dollars forward antibodies forward and it doesn't seem to fix the issue so i would like to hear what you think. >> mr. chairman, i think one of the things that we could do is do more hiring of the adjudicator is and more hiring and the processors. as you tolino a lot of these claims are coming back. they are not completed. they need to be fully developed. i believe like any of their business if you are in a backlog of the only way to get that backlog to curve is horrible people coming and i understand
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in the va being a former were still commissioner of the indiana department of veterans affairs that it takes time to train a adjudicator or claims processor. maybe we can -- i don't know how much overtime we are going to vote, but i think they've got to do these claims more accurately because when we come back the first thing that we see as mistakes when that claim goes right back and we are starting all over again in step one. so i think that is the biggest thing is needed the accuracy. the secretary said he would like to have a 98% accuracy. if we get to that number and i think to see the backlogs' claim reduced. >> do you know the percentage of the claims that your service officers put together our ad adjudicated complete?
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they may not necessarily get a rating that they are asking for, but the percentage of the packages that are completed. >> i don't know what our executive director can probably answer that for you. >> thank you. the american legion takes very seriously the quality of our work and training of service officers. twice a year we put our service officers and rigorous training to ensure they have the qualifications and the knowledge and skills to not only produce quality come awfully difficult claims that we submit to the va but also to help reduce the backlog because it is going to be a team effort to do that. we are going to have as the commander said qualified well-trained service officers to do this. you're specific question on the number that the american legion at adjudicates for i would like to defer to the director verna
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jones in that area. >> we received a report from the va last week and i can tell you the number of claims for legion handles 244,000 claims and you will. that is our number this year, to wondered 44,000. i'm not sure of the expect percentage, the number is 244,000 for the american legion nationally. >> if you would just for the record if you could let us know just the percentage i'm trying to get a handle on how many claims are being done by the veteran themselves obviously using the veteran service officer the assumption from my standpoint is that it would be better to go through the service officer in order to buy the claim, but i am just interested for no other reason folks up here would like to hear. mr. michaud, do you have a question? >> thanks mr. chairman. i'd also like to thank senator
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boozman for his kind and generous remarks and i'm glad to see that you haven't forgotten the host that you came from and you are willing to come back over here on the house side and really enjoy working with you and continue to work with you. once again, i would like to thank you again for coming today to look forward to your ideas and with the american legion would like to see the congress do and some of the concerns that you currently have out there. the american legion is a strong advocate for the veterans and for all of those that have served and is known throughout the halls of congress. i want to take this opportunity, however, to today discuss an issue that is really important to the troops and for the country. we all remember the outrage when it was discovered that olympic athletes were wearing uniforms made in china.
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well i think that we should be as equally outraged about the fact that the troops are not wearing 100% american made uniforms. our soldiers put their lives on the line for us. they should fight in uniforms that they can trust made in the usa. next week i will be giving to a funeral for a soldier that died over in afghanistan in maine. when you talk about uniforms made in the u.s.a., i read an article and i left you a copy to be i know you haven't had a chance to read yet, but i am not the only person that is upset at what is happening with our military today. i was reading an article in the air force times where it says master sergeant says no to chinese-made boots. he was issued a pair of chinese
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boots and he made us take about it and he ultimately did get american made boots. he was sent to afghanistan, and over in afghanistan he was given a uniform come prb observation freedom camouflage uniform. he asked for a pair of required boots. well, guess what, she was issued a pair of chinese boots once again. in the article, you'll see where the sergeant at the end and i would like to quote it, with a master sergeant said, and i quote, this is about patriotism, this is about following the amendment set forth over 60 years ago. this is about american soldiers wearing our country's uniforms made by americans. and i couldn't agree more with the master sergeant.
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at a time when our nation is divided and the discourse when washington, d.c. is extremely negative, it seems to me with the outrage for the athletes wearing the chinese made uniforms that this is one issue we all can agree on. even both candidates that are running for president of the united states are criticizing one another about not being tough on china, and both campaigns are talking about making sure more things are stamped with made in the usa. there's a way we can get tough on china. increase things made in u.s.a., and make sure that our american soldiers are not treated as second-class citizens, that they have the best.
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that is what they are fighting for, this country, the united states of america. and i find it extremely concerning because this issue is not an issue that needs the congress to act. it's not an issue that we need the regulatory agency to address, it's an issue that is already law. so my question to you is what is the american legion position? do you believe that our soldiers that are putting their lives on the line each and every day for us should they be wearing clothing made in the united states of america? ..
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to sign that letter to the administration requiring them to comply with the intent of the law. it's unfortunate we have to do that. and hopefully we will see some changes in that regard. thank you very much. i yield back the balance of my time. [applause] >> senator begich. >> thank you very much. just a couple questions. i wanted to mention also, in march, we are going to hold a jobs fair for veterans. and it's an interesting thing.
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when you do these jobs fairs there's an incredible amount of folks that come out. and i just met this morning, why i was later, i was meeting with franchisors, new franchise businesses, restaurants and so forth, they have a new initiative to help veterans get in the business so we are very excited what's happened with the small business committee regarding our veterans. ms. jones come you mentioned 244, give or take, thousand claims you processed. you keep track of the acceptance rate, and what i mean is you submit them, how often do they got to make it through the system successfully? what is that percentage? >> thank you, sir. because it takes so long for those plan to travel through the system, it's almost impossible for us to keep accurate account of how many of them are awarded, how many of them denied. but i will tell you that after board of veterans appeals we keep track of the amount of
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planes that are -- claims that overturn. we're at 76% claims that a been adjudicated in air and overturned by the board of veterans appeals. the va put out an annual report that breaks down how many claims, how may have been awarded him how many of them have been denied. but they don't break them down by a deal or by the part of a to for ease veteran service or organization. >> it's maybe something would ask that the to do a record pace because i would be good because my that is your office is doing a great job, and that's my bet. it's working so successfully. maybe there's an opportunity to streamline it even more. so if you are already having a very high success rate and acceptance of these claims, then maybe there's a way to look at the process and slim it down a little bit on the va site because your rate of success in doing the claims as successful as you are doing them should be a benefit to you all and also
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the veterans are receiving the benefit so maybe there's an opportunity if we measure the success rate. spent absolutely. as a matter-of-fact we asked the va for those numbers just yesterday. >> good. >> we expect to receive them shortly and we will make sure you get a copy. >> will you share that with this individual or the two committees? that would help us i think make the case of why your service officers can process these very successfully and, therefore, maybe there is again i know that the duplicate some of the work, it's like maybe we can cut some of that out, make it a little faster and base it on your past success rate. so let's take a look at that. the second thing i guess, commander, maybe you can enter this or maybe you can comment on it with regard to the mental health services. i know it's a big issue. we are struggling in the armed service community which also sit on. we been successful in now getting mental health service
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providers in the battlefield at that level rather than waiting for folks to come home and try to figure out what to do at that point. we are trying to step it up on the front end. it's been very successful to some degree. but i know the va is agreeing to hire more providers, but the challenge is getting more in the pipeline. so maybe you can get some thoughts there. i know the bill we passed earlier i had an amendment which was successful, which ensured that to use mental health services through telemedicine which is proving to be very successful. no co-pays are required anymore which i think is a huge step it getting better access. you have thoughts or ideas on how we can get more mental health service providers and veterans access to those folks? >> well, hiring more mental health services or providers and with the percentage of these troops coming home, with
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traumatic brain injury and ptsd, we know that that's going to increase, going to increase immensely. i think we're going to have to get where we can train, train these people so we can take care of these soldiers when they come home. i don't know the rate. i think, i'm understand the rate is maybe 50%, if not more of these returning soldiers coming back from afghanistan and iraq that are having these two problems with tbi or ptsd. i think the sooner that we can get this job done the better off we're going to be. so we can take care of these soldiers when they come home. >> very good. mr. chairman, just one quick question. i caught most of your testimony because i came in just as your starting and i just wanted to ask, i didn't hear you mention the g.i. bill and is wondering if there is issues or the success of the g.i. bill or are there things we should look at
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to improve. i know we made one improvement the last couple of years and we're getting a lot of use of the g.i. bill. is there any thoughts you want to add on that issue? >> the g.i. bill is in good shape right now. the only thing i think the american legion is concerned that if we need to keep watching and see how things are going with the g.i. bill in case we need to improve it. there's always room for improvement. in g.i. bill, but right now we have no measure -- major issues with the g.i. bill. >> very good. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator boozman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. commander, you know, you can have great benefits but if you can't access them it's a real problem, and i know that you'll have been working hard for our rural veterans, you know, trying to ensure that the accessibility is there. we've been working with senator franken, actually passed a bill in committee that would require
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the office of rural health to put us, specific strategic plan how to do that. i know you've been through the active in that regard. can you elaborate on squishy feel like we can do a better job in serving our rural veterans? i know also, you know, there's a move to expand the census bureau definition. again, if you could elaborate a little bit that would be helpful. >> welcome american legion believes to take care of this rural health care problem that we need to add more clinics, more outpatient clinics, more doctors so we can take care of this. as you're probably in my opening statement, i said some veterans are driving up to four hours. been when they get there they probably can't get in. so the problem is that we don't have enough staff, doctors,
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medical equipment. so if we maybe add staff, add more clinics to take care of the rural veteran, i think that would be a big asset to helping these veterans. >> telemedicine, fans? >> sure. >> very good. we do appreciate your efforts in doing that. it's interesting we worked with senator franken. you have some large cities in his state but it's a very rural state, as is arkansas and summit of the places that we represent. i mentioned the licensing and how it came up with the police. i know you all are ready on the cutting edge of the. i think you had a summit. can you tell me a little bit about how that went in some of the suggestions perhaps that you have in that area? >> i didn't understand your question. >> the credentialing, making such that -- >> licensing? >> yes, sir.
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>> just like the veteran skills jobs act, you know, as i said in my statement that a fury humvee driver over in iraq or in afghanistan dodging ieds and landmines, when you come home you ought to be able to be a truck driver, or if you're a medic you want to be able to come home and not have to go through step one of being an emt in civilian life. i think the credentialing, i think you're working in the right direction and we're working in the right direction to make this better for our veterans and our servicemembers when they come home. >> the congressman, the chairman, you know, mentioned what's on all of our minds, you know, that backlog and the stuff, how can we be helpful. can you describe in a little bit more detail the claims coach mobile phone, that communist,
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which that's going to be about, how that is going to be helpful? >> i would let verna jones answer's picture. >> thank you. the mobile app is set to help veterans download application on their mobile phones that will direct them to veterans service officers. it will help veterans start off with what they need together, information, document and what documents they need to bring them. and it will even help them putting their zip code and determine which veterans service office is closest to them to help them with that. so the mobile app will set the veteran up so when i walk into the veterans service officers, office, they are more able to have a full develop claim which we know is supposed to go through the system more quickly. we are excited about the mobile client app and helping more veterans will download the cleanup to help them get ready to file the claim. >> very good.
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that's actually. i think they'll be very, very helpful. just one last thing, commander. can you elaborate on your comment regarding that the health care system, that growing numbers of female veterans in a system that is traditionally catered to men, must adapt to meet these unique needs of today's veterans population, you know, with us having so many more females in the military. and i guess, if you could elaborate on that and really tell us how you feel like the department can improve the delivery of care and benefits to an increasing number, not only do we have a large number now but we have an increasing number of female veterans in need of the services. >> well, with a 20% our military force being females nowadays, we believe that we must have better radical care. we must -- medical care. we must get the doctors who can
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take care of her female veterans in the va clinics. from what our understanding is on a survey that we took there was only 25% of the female veterans that felt that the va medical system was better than going to their own. so i think that we need to just maybe do a little better job and take care of our females. i have, and what i've been trying to do is try to get a woman veterans coordinator in every department in the american legion, once with it all that committee together that of hoping that the american legion will get these women, female courtiers together and they can tell us the needs that they need to have and then we can relate to you. >> very good. thank you, commander, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. you're talking about the g.i.
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bill and some of the education benefits. one of the things that the legion can help us with as we just change into a new fiscal year, and that's with the the wrapper program, or the veterans returning assistance program. i think we did 45,000, we, the department of veterans affairs, 45,000 or labor, 45,000 applications approved. the were many that were in the queue that were waiting. we actually authorize 99,000 total. as of today the numbers that i have with their 63,844 applications, of which 50,000 of them were approved. so there's still roughly another 36,000 folks out there that can access these benefits for retraining. so i would like to ask for your help with the legion's help in getting the word out to those
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individuals. we focus a lot on the younger returning veterans, but obviously this is focused on 35-60 year old folks to get them train to get into the workforce. so i just bring that to your attention. you had talked about, about a hires -- tire he was attacked, that was part of its we would like to ask for your assistance with giving the word out on the. also we're talking about mental health. i'd like to ask a question, any time you talk about going outside the norm. we get some visceral responses. but we had a roundtable discussion with some of the veteran service organizations recently here in talking about mental health. and how to we get the patient to be able to get to the provide as good as possible. and it takes va so long to hire somebody, especially somebody
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that is a credited with some type of the medal to degree, whether it's a nurse, physician, psychiatrist and optometrist, whatever it may be. and there's been some discussion about opening tricare to give the option for folks to either stay in the traditional va track, or go into the tricare system. still being managed, very care being managed by va. we could double the amount of providers overnight if we were able to do something. does the legion have a physician -- position, are you willing to look at these options to help solve -- what liberty is a crisis in this country. our mental health backlog out there is something not to be proud of. we've got to provide it quickly
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to those that are in need, wherever they may be. and some of them are in rural areas. it's very difficult and it's very difficult to do a lot of it via telehealth, which senator begich has talked about, telehealth, and the great success. mental health may be somewhat different, especially in the very beginning. so i'd like to ask what the legion physician, if any, on exploring the opportunity. >> first let me say a few words before to the overture executive director, peter gaytan. but we understand that's a big issue. we understand his problems there and we understand that we're going to have to train the people to take care of these mental health. a lot of these mental health people probably don't even want to come. they want to stay in them, the back. but i think with your help in our help maybe we can go to those people and get them out and get the help they need. so with that fellow turned over to peter, our executive direct
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director. >> thank you, mr. commend. and that is a real issue which are bringing up, bringing with access to mental-health. the the access to mental health right now is efficient at you mentioned tell health. va's utilizing other resources like telehealth. and it is going to be a growing problem in terms of mental health care. but specifically with the suggestion of opening up track and utilizing tracker, the american legion was at that roundtable and we appreciate that invitation. it is something were taking under consideration. we like to see the reality of that being in effect. will it come how much will it improve our veterans access to mental health care that they need? when you were looking at the new demographics of returning veterans and we talked about rural health and the negligent publisher report earlier this year focus on rural health care, we in this nation are at a time where we are relying more and more on our guard reserve service that was going to serve
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but to serve in combat zones. they are returning to rural areas if they are returning to areas that are not supported with military treatment facilities. areas that may not have a these treatment facility nearby. they are not just coming back to the support of a military base and the unit they know. they are thrown back into the civilian world. and that time between the pressure of combat to the time they're walking down main street u.s.a., it's short. so those individuals are the ones we need to capture and utilize new ideas like tricare tell health. even contracting special mental health care when appropriate. not a blanket statement would allow our veterans to go down the street but in specific areas in specific cases where we know that we can reach the veteran anytime in their to protect them and hope to reduce suicide which those are the things we need to look at. i think the tricare discussion, and appreciate that opportunity, that tricare discussion is just part of a larger equation of how can we develop as many options
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as possible to reach these returning veterans who have these very dire mental health care needs. and yes, va is getting overwhelmed and yes, it does take a long time to hire, train and utilize new employees. this is an area we need to concentrate on, and i think, i can't tell you the tricare issue you brought up, the american legion is talking to you and your staff to better understand those option but i think you and we have an obligation to realize how much that tricare opportunity will help the situation and what else needs to be added to that. so we can reduce the mental health care, improve mental health care access and reduce the effects that our combat troops are coming back and dealing with. >> thank you. >> don't want to get too comfortable with his gavel here.
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[laughter] thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'd like to actually follow up on that same line of thinking. we look at at a state like maine where we are a very rural state, and access is an extremely important issue. and when you look at what we are seeing in the military today with the increase in suicide rates, as was within our veterans population, our female veterans, i just saw a movie, documentary just the other day the invisible war with sexual assault and some of the problems that our female veterans have. so access is extremely important. first of all, i'd like to thank the american legion once again for putting out a system worth saving. i think it's deathly a very good document that i enjoyed reading every year, because it really highlights some of issues out there in the va system. following on the same train of thought that chairman miller brought up, when you look at access whether it is tricare, whether it is utilizing our
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federally qualified health care systems, i can understand some of the concerns that the veterans might have, and i, too, do not want the beaches be an insurance agency where va will pay for service outside because i think it's a very important role for the va to play. but also i believe that we and you, we have to do everything that we can to make sure that our veterans get the health care that they need, when they needed. and when you look at the fact that the mental health, secretary shinseki has agreed to hire 1900 mental health and associate workers, without the problem being there's already 1500 vacancies that he said, some have been over a year in mental health area. so i'm very glad that you are looking at the tricare system. i think it's very important that
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we look at everything that we have to to make sure they get the care that they need. but i guess my question would be in that same vein, is if you look at rural states such as maine, when you look at unique is, whether it's alaska or some states that have a lot of islands and veterans trying to get health care that they need when they need it. which also be willing to look at in the rural areas, if they do not have tricare services in those particular areas, if there might be some collaborative effort that we could utilize from federally qualified health care clinics or rural hospitals to get those types of services? and once again i'm not advocating that the va since everything up because i don't think they should. but i do think that it has to be some medium ways where we can look at the veterans, in the care that they need. at the same time making sure
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that the va medical facilities are still a primary focus for our veterans. would you want to comment on the? >> we are willing to probably work with you on anything to be sure that we get our veterans taken care of. the main thing is that they get the proper health care, especially the mental health area. as you talked about the suicide rate, that's something that we've got to be sure that we get that nearly stopped. there's way too much suicide going on, and it's not just the iraq and afghanistan veterans. there are still vietnam veterans that are doing it every day. don't know what the answer is, but i wish there was an answer, that we can take care of these service members that are doing this.
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but yes, we are willing to work in any way we can to take care of them. >> senator begich. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just have a couple quick more questions, and i apologize i may have to depart here. i want to follow up on the mental health issue, and i know, as just mentioned, the amount of mental health providers the va is moving forward with the hiring. the challenge is the process of hiring and also making sure there's a supply line. i hate to be so crass about a bunch of kevin of people in the pipeline who want to take those jobs in a very huge and growing field nationwide, not just for our veterans. we have a huge challenge we may have to be more creative in ensuring that we get mental health providers working for the va, or at least in cooperation with the va. and also recruiting. because mental health services at our veterans will need to not
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go away after just a few months. they are going to be around for many, many, many years and we need to have the service is available. we may want to think about how we incentivize folks to get into this field of mental health services who didn't work for the va and for work with the va. so that's something that may be a little thought, maybe some suggestions back from you folks. the other piece is, i know the big issue when we dealt with utilizing our indian health services which are actually run by the alaska native tribal consortium for health care delivery within a rural parts of alaska, was the quality of care. veterans want to make sure that whatever happens, that they get quality care, no matter where it is, they want quality care. and the concern was always that the va offers a certain level, and with these others agencies offer less. that was the big concern. what we found, what our veterans have found, and their organization found that our
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travel consortium delivers equal or better care than the va. but we never take that choice away from the veteran. the veteran can go to the va hospital or the va clinic or utilize this service. and we think they can increase as a. i think there are innovative ways to ensure the core of the va is strong, stable and growing, but also making sure we realize another arena we put in and a lot of federal dollars into the health care systems in very rural areas. and i think there's a great way to ensure that we keep equal or better quality for veterans. i think as you look at this, i think we'll all be very interested in this, in your suggestions. along with that, we were able to put in to the defense authorization bill language for active military. we need to do the same thing for veterans. and that is a very better communicating safe mental health services in washington, d.c.,
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then you go home to alaska and you want to get the same mental health service providers to provide for you, if they're not licensed in alaska, not going to happen. in the active military we put someone which income and the minute i put in to ensure that no matter where you go you can still access that doctor. because with mental health service is little different than a physician who may be taking care of maybe a hand injury or something of that nature. mental health providers is all about relationship. that jupiter with the provider. so it's critical that that can continue to have that care, who ever they need and want from wherever they want in this country. and we've got to think about that so i think there's an effort we need to do like we did in armed services with veterans, the same kind of language to ensure that no matter where you live, you can access that. i know i will get in trouble with every state with their medical boards and jurisdictions and all that gobbledygook that
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gets in the. but at the end of the day if we have a veteran receiving great care, they should get it where ever they move. and be able to access that person to that's what we did the telehealth medicine, no co-pays in more because we think that's a great access point or i want to put that -- as you think about these please help us. the other one on the t.a.p. program, this has been a challenge, the t.a.p. program at and a note it is the being piloted now. by vets at the department of the i don't know if you have any effect yet from how that's working or not working, i don't know if anyone can comment on the. as you know, when i first came here four years ago and there were only 160 slide into powerpoint and i said are you kidding me? i wouldn't even pay attention to that. we read a lot of material around a. it was a dysfunctional element to transition our folks back
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into, civilian. is a want of any comments on this pilot program that is working, or at least have started now? >> we actually had staff attend the first new t.a.p. pilot program. it was the next information that we receive. we sat in with a briefing. we were impressed with some of the information that was delivered. we were very impressed it is going to be mandatory, which it should've been done a long time ago. what we are doing is getting our feedback back to the va letting them know what we think that only way they can improve in the delivery of information, we


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